Alcohol alphabet: XYZ

Find out which Beijing bars serve up this classic cocktail

A history of sorts
If you change the recipe of a classic cocktail, you’re pretty much creating a new drink – and that’s exactly how the XYZ was invented, as a modification of the traditional sidecar cocktail. First appearing in Harry Craddock’s 1930 tome The Savoy Cocktail Book, the customary cognac in the standard sidecar recipe was swapped out for smooth aged rum. All that was needed was a new name, and the XYZ was born.The modern incarnation is an easy measure of any bartender’s mettle – it’s even simple enough to make at home. Once the ratio of ingredients is mastered, you’re ready to mix it up and experiment.

It’s all in the ingredients
XYZs can come in many variations, but the basic recipe is an unpretentious mixture of rum, triple sec and lemon juice. To make one, add one tablespoon of lemon juice, one shot of light rum and half a shot of triple sec into a shaker with ice. Shake as if your life depended on it, and strain into a chilled glass.

It’s said variation is the spice of life, so why not try substituting the rum for gin to create a variant of the classic XYZ? Mix together a shot with a tablespoon of lemon juice, half a shot each of sweet and dry vermouth, and a dash of sugar for another spin on the tipple. No matter which variety you serve, make sure it’s presented in a cold cocktail glass for the best effect.

Where to drink it
When looking of the best place to get an XYZ, just remember, it’s all about those three ingredients: rum, triple sec and lemon. Q Bar shakes up a fresh incarnation of the XYZ (45RMB) with a dash of lime, while intimate 1930s-throwback lounge Ala House makes a classic incarnation of the cocktail (70RMB) that would please even the most stringent drink nerds.

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