These Are Some of Our Favorite Things

Monday, June 10, 2019, had a full house for “Number Ten Tenth Symposium TalkTails: These Are Some of Our Favorite Things,” well, which largely turned out to be some of my favorite cocktails, anyway, since participants for the most part did not submit their cocktail candidates beforehand, or cocktails that they’d heard about and been intrigued, or maybe some  target drink for which the old home bar didn’t have the right bottles.  As of handout production time, only one nomination had been submitted, so the other cocktails are from among my favorites.

Featured Cocktails

Here are the featured cocktails, with all such drawn from the Number Ten Bar Book.  The one request I had received was for White Lady, which I’d included as one of our samplings below.

Deshler

  • 1 ½ oz. Rye
  • 1 oz. red Dubonnet
  • ¼ oz. Cointreau
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 large orange twist
  • 1 large lemon twist
The Deshler cocktail is a solid example of classic full-flavored drinks that are usually not thought of these days, at least beyond the Manhattan. Image source: https://cold-glass.com/2012/02/28/the-deshler-cocktail/

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish: orange twist. Deshler is a terrific cocktail that has long been ignored. Deshler is similar to a Manhattan, but the use of Dubonnet and Cointreau instead of sweet vermouth gives this drink a much fuller feel, while the substitution of Peychard’s Bitters adds that little something that only Peychard’s can add.  Twisting up the large orange and lemon peels in the shaker adds a bit of fresh citrus bitter notes. Recipe first appeared in Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks, 1917.

There is a very interesting discussion of the Deschler in David M. Ford’s blog Cold Glass; the write-up serves as an excellent guide to how recipes can—and, often times, should—evolve, along with some bits of history, such as the cocktail’s name probably related to Dave Deshler, an American lightweight boxer in the early years of the 20th century, in case you were wondering.

I am pleased to see that Ford includes Robert Hess (one of my favorite cocktail mavens) take on the cocktail, and we’re going with Hess’s recipe, which reduces the triple sec from the original recipe, among other changes. Ford further reduces the Cointreau (both Hess and Ford call for this triple sec, and rightly so), to make the drink drier.

There are many reasons why I’m drawn to the Deshler, including that it is Rye-based; that it uses Dubonet Rouge, one of my favorite ingredients; and Peychaud’s Bitters, another intriguing choice.  I’m a fan of orange bitters, but the Deshler instead uses large orange and lemon peel pieces expressed into and stirred in the mixing vessel, and this acts as something akin to orange and lemon bitters, although you have to have a good amount of each peel, well-expressed, to get best results.

Ford

  • 1 oz. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
  • 1 oz. Vya Dry Vermouth
  • 3 dashes Benedictine
  • 3 dashes orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish: orange twist. There are a number of Gin/vermouth cocktails that also includes Benedictine, but the Ford places the emphasis on the dry vermouth carrying just a hint of Benedictine and the wonderful—and here, subtle—flavor of this intense liqueur. ( Source: Modern American Drinks, by George J. Kapeler, 1895).

I came across a recipe for Ford that calls for Old Tom Gin, and boy does that sound right, as a London Dry Gin could, with its heavier juniper, mask the hint of Benedictine too much.

Old Pal

  • 1½ oz. Pikesville Rye
  • ¾ oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • ¾ oz. Campari

Stir all ingredients with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel. The Old Pal recipe is similar in structure to the Boulevardier. For the last couple of years, I’ve been telling people that Old Pal was one of the cocktails Dorothy Parker would drink in the days of the Algonguin Round Table, but when I Goggled for confirmation, I received none, so maybe I’d just that whole thing up.

What I did find was a nice re-cap of the drink from Punch, as follows:

Harry MacElhone of Harry’s Bar in Paris credited his “old pal,” journalist William “Sparrow” Robertson, with the inspiration or invention of this drink. As the sports editor for the New York Herald in Paris, Robertson frequented Harry’s place enough to receive mention in his 1922 ABC of Mixing Cocktails. The Old Pal is essentially a Boulevardier, another drink by MacElhone, but drier thanks to mix of Rye, Campari, and dry vermouth in the place of sweet.

The Boulevardier is a great drink, especially using the right Rye (i.e., complex and high-proof, and Pikesville therefore makes an excellent choice; another, for Bourbon, is Old Forrester 1920), and the Old Pal is great, too.  One of the commentators to this particular Punch blog entry wonders “if a semi-sweet vermouth like Dolin Blanc” would work, and I’m sure that this would work very well.

Twenty-First Century Cocktail

  • 1½ oz. Blanco Tequila
  • ¾ oz. white crème de cacao
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice
  • ¼ oz. absinthe (for coating)
The Twenty-First Century cocktail is, indeed, a new one, by Jim Meehan, of PDT in New York City (a seminal Cocktail Revival bar started by Audry Saunders. Image source: https://www.azuniatequila.com/21st-century/

Coat the glass with the absinthe, then shake stir everything else with ice and strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Double-straining (i.e., using a mesh strainer too) is a nice touch, as it clears the cocktail of ice chips and the increase in bruising as these melt–the drink is delicate and bruising can easily affect the balance.

I’m a huge fan of the Twentieth Century Cocktail, which derived its name from the Twentieth Century Limited rail line connecting New York City and Chicago, a premium passenger service that had great dining and drinking facilities, along with literal red carpet roll-out for arriving passengers (this apparently is the source of the term “red carpet” treatment, according to some Internet stories, so you know it has to be true!).

Robert Hess has this to says about this cocktail:

The 20th Century cocktail has been around for… well… about a century. Isn’t it time we had something a little more up-to-date? Jim Meehan, of PDT in New York City, felt the same way, and so he came up with this delightful variation that is well worth trying. I appreciate it because it uses tequila, and I personally think the world needs a few more good tequila cocktail recipes.

This cocktail, despite the similarity of name, is rather different from the Twentieth Century Cocktail, but the interplay of the crème de cacoa and lemon juice is in common, which gives these cocktails great balance and excellent mouth feel. As often happens with cocktails calling for absinthe, what is required is spare use, and when done right, the hint brings the perfect overtones to the other ingredients. Although here the base liquor is Tequila and for its precursor’s base liquor is Gin (see the recipe in the next section, “Other Favorite Cocktails”), another big difference is that Twentieth Century also uses Lillet Blanc, which I think is a delightful aromatized (fortified) wine aperitif.

White Lady

  • 2 oz. Gin
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • ½ oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.  Less complex a gin sour than Pink Lady, this is a fine cocktail when quality ingredients—including fresh-squeezed juice—is used.

I’m delighted that White Lady was nominated for tasting, if for no other reason than it is a simple Gin sour structure—compare with Sidecar, for instance—and most people don’t think of Gin and sour structure, although, in fact, there are many such cocktails, including Tom Collins (another simple one), and a number of my favorites listed in the following section, such as the Biter.

Other Favorite Cocktails

Okay, what follows are just some more of my favorite cocktails that we had neither time nor legal immunity to try at this particular Number Ten Symposium, but that can be said of the 200 recipes that make up the current version of the Number Ten Bar Book.  That doesn’t mean you should avoid the homework of exploring these, so try them at home, or the next time you’re at Number Ten, order one or another of these cocktails. In fact, a number of these have made it on to the Summer 2019 Cocktail Menu, so you don’t even have to bring a reminder.

Biter

  • 1½ oz. Gin
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • ¾ oz. Chartreuse
  • 1 dash absinthe

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish: lemon twist. Similar to the Bijou in the use of Chartreuse liqueur, but with the liqueur balanced by the lemon juice, with the simple syrup smoothing the lemon juice’s bite, while the dash of absinthe further expands the body of this drink. Try two pumps of absinthe rinse in empty glass, then one pump over the finished drink.

Champs Elysées

  • 1½ oz. Brandy
  • ¾ oz. Chartreuse
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish: lemon twist. A very nicely balanced cocktail that very effectively brings the unusual combination of Brandy and Chartreuse together. (Source: Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock, 1930)

Corpse Reviver #2

  • ¾ oz. Gin
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. Cointreau
  • ¾ oz. Lillet blanc
  • 1 dash absinthe

Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. This is the most popular of the “Corpse Reviver” cocktails, and typically is the only one that people know. It is an excellent drink which provides a delightful balance of ingredients. (Source: The Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock, 1930)

Delmonico

  • 1 oz. Gin
  • ½ oz. Brandy
  • ½ oz. dry vermouth
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish: Lemon twist. “The Delmonico Cocktail is named after what is considered to be the first restaurant opened in the United States. First opened in 1827, Delmonico’s has suffered through fire, prohibition and a series of proprietors and still serves its famous steaks today.” (Drinkboy.com)

Jasmine

  • 1½ oz. Gin
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • ¾ oz. Campari
  • ½ oz. lemon juice

Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish: lemon twist. This cocktail is both pretty and delicious, with the sweet/tart/bitter balance working very well.

Last Word

  • 1½ oz. Gin
  • ¾ oz. maraschino
  • ¾ oz. Chartreuse
  • ¾ oz. lime juice

Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. This is a terrific cocktail, with vary unusual tones, due to the Chartreuse.  The original recipe can come across as too sweet for modern tastes, but using more Gin pushes the two liqueurs into the background, but still brilliant in taste. (Source: Bottom’s Up, by Ted Saucier 1951)

Martinez

  • 2 oz. Old Tom Gin
  • ¾ oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Maraschino liqueur
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Mix ingredients in shaker, add ice, stir, and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish: lemon twist. Note; Substitute Ruby or LBV Port for the sweet vermouth, serve on the rocks, to make a Ruby Martinez.

Sloe Good

  • 2½ oz. Sloe Gin
  • ¾ oz. lime juice
  • ¾ oz. Fernet Branca
  • ¾ honey syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Mix ingredients in shaker, shake, and pour into cocktail glass. Garnish: lime wheel. Sloe gin is a red liqueur made with gin (typically, Old Tom style) and sloe (blackthorn) drupes, which are a small fruit relative of the plum, proofed at about half the ABV of regular gin. (Source: Sloe Good, under the name Sloe and Unsteady, is credited to Austin, Texas-based bartender and restauranteur Jessica Sanders at Drink Well, just a few years ago.)

Twentieth Century Cocktail

  • 1 ½ oz. Gin
  • ¾ oz. Lillet blanc
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. white crème de cacao
This is indeed one of my favorites, as the Gin (yay!) is supported by Lillet Blanc (yay!), and the sour aspect comes from fresh lemon juice balanced by the sweet and base note of creme de cacao. Image source: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/20th-century/#gs.prknzf

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Lillet blanc is starting to reappear in cocktails; this one is a worthy pioneer. Twentieth Century is a wondrous mix, and the small amount of crème de cacao lends a gentle base note and a delightful mouthfeel.

Vieux Carre

  • ¾ oz. Rye
  • ¾ oz. Brandy
  • ¾ oz. sweet vermouth
  • ⅛ oz. Benedictine
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Like the Sazarec, Vieux Carre is also credited to New Orleans and built in an Old-Fashioned glass. While the Peychard’s Bitters give a hint of absinthe, much of the additional flavor comes from Benedictine liqueur and the unusual two base liquors of Rye and Brandy, with sweet vermouth adding smoothness. This is an unusual and excellent cocktail.

 

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