Every barman has a corpse reviver recipe: the drink they slide across the bar to the jaded customer without a word, just the unspoken understanding of what the client needs right now, right then. The recipes date back to the mid-C19th, served to young bucks who had over-indulged the night before, and now revived (if you will) for a modern generation of hungover clients.
The #2 mix is allegedly more popular these days, but this #1 mix relies of a swift punch to the kidneys with darker alcohols: brandy (or cognac) and calvados, that wonderful French apple brandy. I have mixed together the standard alcohol kick with Tristran Stephenson’s #1.1 beta recipe, found in his excellent Curious Bartender book, that uses an English apple brandy.
The drink is one you should drink swiftly. ‘While it is still smiling at you’, as they say.
30ml brandy or cognac
30ml calvados (I used Somerset apple brandy here)
30ml Italian vermouth (I used Vermut)
Stir well over ice, then strain into a cold coupe. No garnish is required – you don’t want to delay serving this drink to a customer in distress.
And in a slight, but I think important variant, I dropped a few spots of clove bitters (my recipe) into the centre of the drink. They settle to the bottom, adding a sudden & unexpected dimension as you drain the glass, and one that certainly opens the eyes. Stephenson says ‘add them if you want to break the rules’. I do & so I did.
Another recipe that can be made with Old Tom or dry gin – again, I am using a lighter London style in Hendricks. The mystery of this drink is why the ‘and’ in the title; the answer is in the ingredients: gin *and* brandy *and* vermouth. This sounds like a drink invented by someone ho couldn’t quite work out what to drink, so just kept adding ingredients.
But in reality it is pretty well-balanced. The gin and brandy work well together; I can’t imagine a bourbon equivalent marrying so well, it really has to be brandy. Richard Godwin describes it as having a ‘Fred Astaire sort of sweep’. I can see what he means – it seems to waltz around the tongue, rather than march over your mouth. I slipped away from the recipe by using a lime twist, rather than lemon. Why? Because I wanted to see if it worked, and the subtle citrus note seemed to be more elegant, even if the colour didn’t really work. It’s your glass: you choose.
25ml Italian vermouth
10ml orange liqueur (I used Cointreau, Grand Marnier is more traditional)
Dash of Orange bitters.
Stir well over ice & strain into cold glass. Garnish with a zest twist (see above).
The dependable Manhattan has spawned many variations; the recipe is really simple, so it is very easy to substitute any of the ingredients to create something quite different: the Harvard is a variant where the rye or bourbon is replaced with cognac. Quite how a mix of French brandy with an Italian vermouth has come to represent on of America’s most blue-blooded, ivy-clad Universities is anyone’s guess, but my stab is a few alumni propping up a college bar one evening, deciding that they really needed a cocktail named after their alma mater*. The result is worthy, but not exactly groundshaking: cognac adds a fruitier dimension to the bourbon/rye original, which works well with the vermouth, but without the tension that the spikier spirits have. It’s a soothing drink, one to be lingered over on a cold evening, but I still prefer the original.
20ml. Carpana Antico vermouth
dashes of Angosturas bitter
Stir well over ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a cherry.
* I am sure every college should have some sort of drink named after it; if my old Uni had a drink, then the UCL would most likely be a mix of tequila, whisky & Newcastle Brown Ale, garnished with a roll-up.
There are many cocktails that rightly claim to be classics, either through age, combination of ingredients or both. However it was interesting to find that is a definition of what makes a cocktail a classic: it has to appear after the publication of Jerry Thomas’s 1862 Bartender’s Guide (which contains traditional cocktails) but before the end of Prohibition in the U.S. in 1934; cocktails that come after this date are, by definition, moderns. Anyway, this cocktail appears in Harry Craddock’s 1930s Savoy Cocktail Book (and if you don’t have a copy, you really should have). Sadly, there are no notes accompanying any of the recipes in Craddock’s book, so we have no clues about the story behind this drink, but according to the definition above, then the Classic cocktail is genuinely a classic. The drink has a lovely warming hit, backed up by the citrus notes of the triple sec and lemon juice, and the taste is like a grown-up and more satisfying margarita. I think it’s an undiscovered classic, and deserves a wider audience. Despite my love of Manhattans, this is very high on my list of all-time fantastic, but cruelly under-rated, drinks.
1 oz. of brandy (Hine Antique here)
1/3 oz. of maraschino (Briottet Marasquin here)
1/3 oz. of Curaçao triple sec
1/3 oz. of lemon juice
Dashes of orange bitters (Fee’s, here)
Glass: Large Champagne glass, rim frosted with sugar
Shake well over lots of ice
Serve in coupe, garnished with a twist of lemon zest.
A recent addition to my drinks collection was a bottle of 7 year old Havana Club; this is a wonderfully dark, rich rum, good for sipping as well as mixing, so I wanted to find a complex cocktail recipe that could match the level of flavour in this drink. I had tried a Palmetto recently, which has been described as a ‘rum Manhattan’, but I thought this rum deserved more. Taking a cue from the Sidecar I made a few weeks ago, I settled on the Embassy, a drink that originated in the eponymous Embassy Club in Hollywood in the 1920s. Sadly, history doesn’t record the barman who invented the drink, but the story of Eddie Brandstatter, the restaurateur who opened this, and many others, before sadly taking his own life in the 1940s is as fascinating as this drink: with three different spirits and a decent amount of lime juice, it is like a very grown up Margharita. It is a potent cocktail, and when I sipped it, I could imagine the bright young things of the twenties enjoying it in California nearly a century ago.
Approach with caution, mix with élan & drink like you are partying with Clara Bow.
1oz of fresh lime juice
3/4oz of Cointreau or Triple Sec (I used Gabriel Boudier Curaçao Triple Sec)
3/4oz of Brandy or Cognac (I used Chateau de Millet Bas Armagnac)
3/4oz of Rum (Havana Club, 7 year old)
Dashes of bitters (I used my own house Bt bitters)
Glass: 3oz Martini glass, chilled
Shake well in a shaker over ice, then strain into the Martini glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
Variations: Diffords guide makes this drink with white rum. This would make the drink lighter, but much drier I imagine.