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  • Illustrations Mr Jack Hughes | Words by Mr Alfred Tong

Cocktail culture, for many men, used to be something to ridicule. Ordering a cocktail was the kind of thing that an ageing lothario might do to impress a young girl - or, perhaps because of the influence of Sex and the City, something done exclusively by women. But then we got our own Sex and the City in the form of Mad Men.

But isn't it all a bit of an effort, just to get a drink? Well yes, but then so is having a suit made, so is seducing a woman and so is landing a contract. You wouldn't want to be a poor, badly dressed loner, so why be gauche when it comes to cocktails? As with wine, or anything that requires a bit of knowledge for that matter, it is all too easy to be an insufferable bore when it comes to cocktails. It's a vast subject, full of tedious minutiae and not a little pretension.

There's a sense of theatre in a great cocktail bar that cannot be found in a pub. A cocktail can be la dolce vita in a glass - the perfect accompaniment to an evening with a beautiful woman - or a lonely one-way ticket to vomit-flecked oblivion. Doing it properly matters.