Classic cocktail

Classic cocktail
Classic cocktail

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.

Proportions:

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.

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Martinez: Dry version

20140712-234205.jpgThe Martinez is a very old drink.  Many regard it as the forerunner to the Dry Martini. It can be found in O. H. Byron’s 1884 Modern Bartender, where  it becomes a Manhattan variant; other stories have it named after the mining town of Martinez. Cocktail historians suggest it ought to made with genever, rather than modern dry gins, as this would have been the drink available in America at the time the cocktail began to appear.

On the face of it, this is simply a Manhattan made with gin. But there’s more to this drink than that, especially in the modernized ‘dry’ version I mixed here.. The dry gin I used, Gordon’s, has plenty of citrus notes, and that marries really well with the herby  notes in the sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso). An added complexity is a bar spoon of maraschino coupled with some dashes of bitters (I used my ‘house’ Bt bitters, as their sour cherry note seemed like a match). The results are really intriguing; it really isn’t just a gin Manhattan, but something else altogether. Frankly, if you didn’t know it contained gin, you might be hard pushed to spot it. Certainly, I wouldn’t omit the bitters or the maraschino, both add important notes to the final mix, and I would use a robust, dry, bitters recipe (Fee’s Orange bitters might be too delicate for this, for example).

Proportions (using a jigger/pony measure):

1 jigger of gin (Gordon’s dry in this version)

1 pony of sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso here)

1 bar spoon of maraschino (La Briottet Marasquin)

3 drops of bitters

Glass: 3oz Martini glass, chilled

Stir all the ingredients together in a shaker, then strain into the Martini glass. Garnish with a piece of lemon zest.