Satan’s Whiskers (curled)

img_3650Very apt for Halloween, or Samhain (depending on your outlook and religion) is this recipe, taken from Imbibe‘s website. They list two versions of this drink – one with Grand Marnier for the orange component (straight whiskers), the other with triple sec (the curled version), the latter being one I have made here.

The combination of gin and orange is not a new one (this recipe is really just a variation on the Bronx cocktail), but here is quite refreshing & makes for a light and drinkable mixture. The vermouths add a richness to the flavour turning the whole thing into a Bronx with an added citrus kick. I am not sure where the satanic angle comes from, as this drink really isn’t evil in any way at all; perhaps the name comes from the hangover a few of these might engender.

Method

1/2 oz. gin (Gordon’s here)

1/2 oz. triple sec

1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (antica formula)

1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Lillet blanc)

1/2 oz. orange juice (fresh is best)

dashes of orange bitters

Stir well over ice, then strain into a chilled coupe & garnish with orange zest.

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Derby

Derby cocktail
Derby cocktail

Like the Suburban recipe I have posted before, here is another drink that is named after a famous horse race. However, the Derby in question is not the English version, but the Kentucky Derby, which has been run every year since 1875.

And since the race has always been so popular across the U.S. (popularly referred to as the most exciting two minutes in sport), it seems every bartender across the continent has invented a cocktail in its honour at one point or another. The IBA ‘official’ recipe includes peach bitters, gin and mint leaves, suggesting a strong relationship to a julep, but there are at least two other well-known variants. The IBA may claim the ‘official’ recipe, but I prefer the ‘sour manhattan’ version that has come from Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide: bourbon, triple sec, lime juice & vermouth (making the cocktail one from the ‘modern’ camp).

If it all sounds like the marriage of a Margarita & a Manhattan, you would be right: it is refreshing, but with a good, clean alcohol kick and a rich warmth from the bourbon/vermouth combination. If you had a friend whose automatic first choice of cocktail was a Margarita, I’d hand them one of these. They will thank you for it, and you would have made one more convert from the Margarita/Martini/Cosmopolitan triangle of inertia.

I’d hazard a guess that this recipe does come at least from the Kentucky area; by May (the time of the eponymous horse race), the weather would be warm enough to need a good refresher drink, but evenings would still be cool enough to remind one of the wintery style of the Manhattan.

Proportions:

1 oz of bourbon (Knob Creek here)

3/4 oz of fresh lime juice

1/2 oz of triple sec

1/2 oz of sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso here, it needn’t be too rich).

Dashes of bitters (I used the Jack Rudy aromatic cocktail bitters here)

Glass: 3oz Martini

Shake well, and strain into a Martini glass, garnish with thin lime wedge.

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.

Embassy

IMG_0430A 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.

Proportions:

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.

Sidecar

Sidecar, made with Bas Armagnac
Sidecar, made with Bas Armagnac

Following the disappointment with the Aviation earlier (too harsh, too acidic), I remembered another classic, lemon juice-based drink: the Sidecar. But, unlike the Aviation, this recipe is perfectly balanced, with proportions of one sour (the juice), one sweet (Triple Sec) & two strong (Brandy or Cognac). Shaken rapidly over ice, then strained into a cooled glass, the drink has a sharp and refreshing hit followed by a warming glow from the two alcohols. The combination of the two fruits, lemon & orange, are really well matched. I used the proportions as laid out in Tristan Stephenson‘s book, the Curious Bartender, in a classic 1:1:2 combination. Made like this, the drink comes out as a sophisticated relative to the Margarita.

Proportions:

20ml of fresh lemon juice

20ml of Cointreau or Triple Sec (I used Gabriel Boudier Curaçao Triple Sec)

40ml of Brandy or Cognac (I used Chateau de Millet Bas Armagnac)

Glass: 3oz Martini glass, chilled

Shake well in a shaker over cubed ice, then strain into the Martini glass. Without garnish is the traditional way to serve the drink.