They simply didn’t know better. In the 1970s and 1980s—the height of careless bars churning out much-maligned cocktails—imbibers absentmindedly sipped the sweet sludge they were served and asked no questions about the unbalanced concoctions filling their glasses. In the midst of today’s classic-cocktail renaissance, such a shoddy approach to drink-slinging just won’t fly. Now, with only quality on their minds, some enthusiastic barkeeps have decided to give these once-bastardized libations an upgrade.

By Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Pépé le Moko, Portland

Jeffrey Morgenthaler decided it was time to give new life to that cloying 1970s go-to, the amaretto sour. In this rendition, served at his speakeasy, he shuns the sweet-and-sour mix for lemon juice and amps it up with bourbon and egg whites.

½ oz. egg whites, lightly beaten
3⁄4 oz. Booker’s overproof bourbon
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1½ oz. amaretto
2 tsp. simple syrup

Shake ingredients with ice cubes until well chilled; strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with lemon peel and a brandied cherry.

By Mike Criss, the Nightingale Room, Houston

At Mike Criss and Bobby Heugel’s Nightingale Room, one of the featured drinks is the Long Island iced tea, a throwback to Criss’s club-bartending days. This version of the often reviled multispirit cocktail is fresh and satisfying.

½ oz. each Old Tom gin, rhum agricole, tequila blanco and simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
Top with Mexican Coke

Pour ingredients into a collins glass filled with ice and stir to combine.

By Chad Solomon, Midnight Rambler, Dallas

Fresh juices and good rums upgrade the classic.

½ oz. each fresh lime juice, coconut milk, rhum agricole blanc
1 oz. Wray & Nephew overproof rum
1¼ oz. coconut cream
1½ oz. fresh pineapple juice
3 drops mineral saline (1 tbsp. salt dissolved in 4 oz. water)

Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake without ice. Pour into a 16-ounce hurricane glass filled with crushed ice. Stir to dilute, top with more ice and garnish with pineapple wedge and freshly grated nutmeg.