Ampersand (dry)

img_4098Another 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.

Method:

25ml gin

25ml brandy

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).

 

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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.

Obituary

img_1916
Obituary, from Richard Godwin’s The Spirits

More news recently of sad losses to our cultural life in the UK. A few weeks ago, Dick Bradsell passed away. He was a cocktail superstar in this country, the man who among many other drink-related innovations, created the espresso martini for a model who wanted a drink ‘to pick her up, then f*ck her up’ whilst tending bar at the Soho Brasserie. Dick obliged with the perfect mash-up of alcohol and caffeine that delivered on her request. And for anyone who visited any of his bars – like the now sadly defunct Detroit in Seven Dials – his cocktail DNA ran deep in every drink served. As with the death of Sasha Petraske last year, our drinking world is a poorer place without him.

The other departed hero of mine is the designer, Sir Ken Adam, who created some of the most remarkable sets for films in a long and very enviable career – particularly his long-running collaboration with the producers of the James Bond films – for whom he designed memorable lairs for super-villains, like the volcano base in You Only Live Twice.

I thought it was appropriate to raise a glass to both men – a cocktail seems a suitable salute to Bradsell, and I am sure that Sir Ken, who spent his time working on films that features one of our best-known cocktail drinkers, wouldn’t object to being acknowledged by a well-filled martini glass. The most suitable drink I found is the well-named Obituary, whose recipe I located in Richard Godwin’s excellent book, The Spirits. This is a properly ‘wet’ martini, where the vermouth plays an equal role to the gin, but what really perks this up is the lurking presence of peppery, aniseedy absinthe. It’s clear, clean drink, livened up by the single cherry. I don’t know the providence of the drink, or how it got its name, but the martini seems a suitable toast to two significant men. Salut!

Method:

Rinse a martini glass with a few drops of absinthe, or as I did here, absinthe bitters, and leave to cool in a freezer while you prepare the rest of the drink.

35ml of gin (Hendricks here)

35ml of French vermouth (in a nod to James Bond’s Vesper, I used Kina Lillet)

Stir the alcohols in a mixing glass, filled with ice. A few drops of orange bitters can be used at this point to tie the two together.

Strain the cooled mixture into the chilled glass, still wet with absinthe. Twist some lemon zest over the surface to mist the drink with lemon, then discard. Garnish with a single cherry. Drink while saluting absent friends.

 

 

Suburban

Suburban, made with bourbon, tawny port & dark rum
Suburban, made with bourbon, tawny port & dark rum

Wondering what to do with my opened bottle of port from Christmas, and looking for drinks to use it in, the discovery of the Suburban came as a happy surprise. It is a very, very good drink indeed & definitely worth trying.

Port may not appear too often on modern cocktail lists, but its inclusion in British mixed drinks is as old as the drink itself: punch was often made with port or another fortified wine, along with brandy, and served at Christmas. Taylors, one of the older port houses still features a recipe on their website.

The Suburban then is an unusual creature, using port but coming from an American source: the drink appears in the Waldorf-Astoria bar book, and the name comes from a horse race of the same name, the Suburban classic. This late C19th appearance puts it into the ‘classic’ category of drinks, and I would say it certainly was. The drink is a solid mix of bourbon (or rye, if you prefer), port & dark rum with plenty of bitters and he result is a cross between a Manhattan and an Old-Fashioned, but a very grown-up hybrid of the two. It’s a cocktail to be approached with care, drunk in a panelled room, lit by a roaring fire.

I am following Richard Godwin’s suggestion in his excellent drinks book, The Spirits, and using tawny port. This is lighter, more flavourful, than ruby or vintage port, and does not overpower the drink with excessive sweetness.

Proportions:

40ml of bourbon (Buffalo Trace here)

20ml of tawny port (Graham’s 10y.o. tawny here)

20ml of dark rum (Havana Club 7y.o. here)

Good dashes of Angostura bitters

Good dashes of orange bitters (Fee’s, here)

Glass: Old-Fashioned

Stir ingredients over ices, then strain into an Old-Fashioned glass with fresh ice. Garnish with large slice of orange 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.

El Chanceler

El Chanceler, made with Blandy's 5-year old Madeira
El Chanceler, made with Blandy’s 5-year old Madeira

Whilst researching the variations on the Manhattan cocktail (see my post, the Manhattan variations, earlier), I noted the scotch-based variant, the Chancellor, which includes a measure of port, preferably tawny. I have an open bottle of Madeira at the moment, which is slightly sweeter, so decided to experiment using the Chancellor as the base of my drink.

My version uses a very mild, single malt scotch, sold by the Co-operative stores here in the UK instead of a blend. And in place of the usual Martini Extra Dry vermouth, I have used Cocchi Americano.

The drink is fantastic, and has a very ‘Christmassy’ taste; I am not sure why, it must be the rich flavour of the Madeira. Either way, it’s a really intriguing variation on the Manhattan & worth adding to the recipe books. In honour of the Portuguese home of the Madeira, I have re-named the drink El Chanceler.

Proportions:

2oz of scotch whisky (I used the Co-op’s single malt scotch)

1oz of Madeira (Blandy’s 5-year old)

1/2oz of dry vermouth (Cocchi Americano)

Dashes of orange bitters (I used Fee’s)

Glass: 3oz Martini glass, chilled

Shake well in a shaker over ice, then strain into the Martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel

Variations: Diffords guide makes the Chancellor with blended whisky, extra dry vermouth & tawny port.