Cheers! The 1980’s cocktail trend

Photo by Proriat Hospitality on Unsplash

The 80’s cocktail culture was characterised by sexual innuendo, neon colours, sour mix, Southern Comfort, Baileys, Peach schnapps and glasses that was either huge or tiny. The cocktails were sickly and lurid, adorned with rainbow coloured swizzle sticks and sparklers. Drinking was largely popularised by the American sitcom Cheers, as the 80’s youth followed the lives of the characters as they drank and relaxed in the iconic Boston based bar. The release of Tom Cruise’s Cocktail saw a new insight into the romantic world of cocktail mixing and the art of bartending, fuelling the 80’s love for a fun and sexy drink. My mum fondly remembers her regular haunt, the Covent Garden bar, Rumours, which she believes perfectly characterises the cocktail scene. With its neon purple logos, dark corners, vinyl bonkettes and C-list celebrities, the crowd would be swarming with their pitchers of mai tai and Long Island Iced tea. Many of the iconic cocktails drank in the 80’s were created in the 70’s but they were branded by the 80s consumption and lifestyle. Want to experience the perfect 80s evening? These cocktails will help you get there!

Mai Tai

One of the most famous tiki drinks in the world, this cocktail was famously served in pitchers during the 80’s. The name is said to come from the first person to try this cocktail as they called out “Mai Tai” which means “the best – out of this world” in Tahitian.

  • 1 ½ oz white rum
  • 3/3 oz orange curacao
  • ¾ oz lime juice
  • ½ oz orgeat
  • ½ oz dark rum

Add the white rum, curacao, lime juice and orgeat into a shaker with crushed ice and shake. Pour into a double rocks glass and drizzle the dark rum onto the back of a spoon so it floats on top. Garnish with a wheel of lime and sprig of mint.

Long Island Iced Tea

Born out of Prohibition when thirsty scofflaws wanted to disguise their booze, this Long Island cocktail was an 80’s favourite. As one of the most alcoholic cocktails ever, there is no surprise that the popularity of this drink has lived on.

  • ¾ oz Vodka
  • ¾ oz white rum
  • ¾ oz tequila
  • ¾ oz gin
  • ¾ oz triple sec
  • ¾ oz sugar syrup
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • Coke to top

Add all alcoholic components, sugar syrup and lemon juice to a glass filled with ice and stir. Top up with a splash of coke, garnish with a wedge of lemon and serve with a straw.

Harvey Wallbanger

This luridly coloured cocktail defines the tackiness of the 80’s. Easy to make, it is essentially a fancier version of a classic screwdriver. Drink this cocktail to channel the days of a classic disco.

  • 1 ¼ oz vodka
  • ½ oz Galliano
  • 3 oz orange juice

Fill a tall glass with ice and add the vodka and orange juice followed by a good stir. Float the Galliano on top by pouring on to the back of a spoon and garnish with a skewered orange slice and maraschino cherry.

Slow Comfortable Screw Against The Wall

This is a good summertime cocktail of the 80s. The sexy name can be broken down into parts to represent each ingredient. Slow – sloe gin, Comfortable – Southern Comfort, Screw – Orange juice, The wall – Galliano.

  • 2oz vodka
  • 1oz Sloe gin
  • 1oz Southern Comfort
  • 1oz Galliano
  • 2oz Orange juice

Add the Vodka, Southern Comfort and orange juice to a highball glass filled with ice and stir. Drizzle the Sloe gin around the surface and pour the Galliano onto a spoon so it floats on top. Do not stir.

Between the Sheets

The name of this sexually provocative cocktail accurately depicts the 80’s cocktail culture. This twist on a classic sidecar is a delicious cocktail to try!

  • 1oz Cognac
  • 1oz Triple sec
  • 10z Light rum
  • ¼ oz Fresh lemon juice

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker with a scoop of ice and shake, strain into a martini glass and top with an orange peel.

Alabama Slammer

The Alabama Slammer was supposedly born at the University of Alabama and is intended to be slammed back to make a point. Initially created in the 70’s, it was popularised in the 80’s scene with its use of Southern Comfort and Sloe gin. You can shot it, or allow it to mix and blend in a long glass and enjoy all of its flavours.

  • 1oz Southern Comfort
  • 1oz sloe gin
  • 1oz amaretto liquor
  • 2oz orange juice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and a scoop of crushed ice. Give it a good shake and strain into a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with a wedge of orange.

The Fuzzy Navel

With the release of Peach Schnapps into the American market in 1984, bartenders were eager to incorporate it into their drinks. With equal parts schnapps to equal parts orange juice, this simple cocktail is a great one for beginners. Propelling peach schnapps into popularity, this questionably named, and luridly coloured cocktail is what the 80’s were all about.

  • 3oz Peach Schnapps
  • 3oz Orange Juice

Pour the Orange Juice and Peach Schnapps into a highball glass filled with ice and top with ice and an orange wheel. Serve and enjoy! Simple and delicious.

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