Tuxedo (dry)

img_4073Like whisky, sherry is an underused cocktail ingredient. But like its Scottish counterpart, it has to be used with a certain care – its dry, subtle flavours can add a mysterious quality, but the dryness can add a mouth-puckering quality if overused.

The Tuxedo is an old recipe indeed, dating back to the end of the C19th, and with sherry as an ingredient, is most likely from an English bartender (although some stories claim it for the Tuxedo Club, which didn’t come into existence until four or five years after this drink was first seen in print).

The recipe really calls for a very traditional version of gin, Old Tom, which is richer and sweeter than London dry styles. But this recipe seems to make no distinction, so I made it with a lighter London style, Hendricks. The maraschino adds a very subtle, almost ineffable, sweetness & lifts the drink completely – it would be very different without it, even though the quantity is tiny (half a teaspoon or so). Likewise with the absinthe – miss it out, and you miss a large range of the flavour, and the aniseed notes really pair well with the sherry.

This is a lovely, gentle drink, like a richer Martini with many more layers of flavour. Probably not one you want to drink more than one of, but as an aperitif, it’s hard to beat. I took this recipe from Richard Godwin’s book, The Spirits. As he says, ‘where are you going with this?’ The answer is in the drink.

Method:

25ml dry gin (Hendricks here

25ml Fino sherry

25ml French vermouth (Noilly Prat is highly suitable)

2.5ml maraschino

Dashes of absinthe

Dashes of orange bitters

 

Stir slowly over the largest ice cubes you have (the drink needs to be properly cold, but not diluted) & strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with lemon zest

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

Brooklyn: Sweet Vermouth

The Brooklyn: Rye & Maraschino
The Brooklyn: Rye & Maraschino

Tonight, a variation to a favourite recipe: the Brooklyn is based on the traditional Manhattan sweet, but instead of the bitters, a few dashes of maraschino are added to give a more fruity flavour. The combination makes the drink sweeter and somehow less intense, but it is distinctive enough to warrant a whole new name, I think. I have found descriptions of the recipe which include Galliano, but I cannot imagine how that would turn out.

This recipe is one of the ‘Five Boroughs collection’, cocktail recipes that represent distinct areas of New York: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx & the Staten Island Ferry.

My version comes from Schumann’s American Bar, simply one of the best cocktail books published. The recipe  calls for neither bitters, nor a garnish (two things I look for in a true cocktail), but adding a slice of orange hardly seems like a major crime. There seems to be some disagreement as to whether the cocktail should be mixed with sweet vermouth or a dry aperitif (see the notes about Amer Picon, below); I am using a sweet vermouth here – we can try the dry version another time.

Proportions – Schumann’s recipe (using a fluid ounce measure):

1 oz of Rye Whiskey – Knob Creek Rye here

3/4 oz of sweet vermouth – Martini Rosso here

Dashes of Maraschino –  Briottet‘s version, marasquin here

Glass: 3oz Martini glass

Method: Put all ingredients into a shaker with ice & stir until well chilled. Strain into Martini glass & garnish with a slice of orange peel (or a cocktail cherry, if preferred. I think the citrus hit of the orange is preferred however).

History notes: The cocktail seems to originate at the turn of the C20th, in a book called Jack’s Manual (J.A. Grohusko, 1908). Back then, the recipe called for a rare aperitif called Amer Picon, which seems unavailable to drinkers in N America, though still available to us in Europe – Gerry’s stocks it, naturally.

The Aviation

20140613-223056.jpgThe Aviation is a cocktail I had wanted to try making for a while; I liked the delicate blue colour it always seems to have, and the rather unusual collection of ingredients (gin, lemon juice, maraschino & creme de violette – although the last seems to be optional in many recipes).

The recipe is a variation on a sour – the gin is given a kick with the addition of lemon juice, sweetened with the maraschino liqueur and given a little colour and flavour by the dash(es) of Creme de Violette.

Proportions – the classic recipe (using a jigger/pony measure):

1 jigger of Gordon’s gin

1/2 pony of lemon juice (see below for thoughts on this)

1/4 pony of maraschino – I used Briottet‘s version, marasquin

Dash(es) of creme de violette – Bitter Truth‘s violet liqueur

Glass: 3oz Martini glass

Method: Put all ingredients into a shaker with ice & shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into Martini glass & garnish with a single cherry (or, alternatively, a slice of lemon peel; flamed, if liked – presumably representing a ‘downed aviator’…).

I wasn’t taken by the results of this at all, which was a surprise. The proportions here create a drink with too acidic an attack from the lemon juice, which seems to linger in the back of the throat. I think the proportions are wrong, and would switch the amounts of maraschino & lemon juice around. But the drink is undeniably a pretty one, and may well appeal to Cosmopolitan drinkers who want something in a similar style, but less sweet. Classic recipes leave out the creme de violette, but it certainly gives the drink an attractive colour and an unusual flavour. It is worth tracking down.

Recipe notes: The sour base of this cocktail means that it features in quite a few variants. For example, drop the creme de violette in favour of a few drops of orange bitters, and this cocktail becomes a Casino.

Historical notes: The cocktail was invented by Hugo Esslin in New York, whilst working at the Hotel Wallick, and first recorded in his book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks in 1916. My facsimile copy of Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Guide from the 1930s, includes the recipe, but as noted before, lacks the creme de violette.