In the 1920s a surgeon called Serge Voronoff successfully implanted sections of chimpanzee and baboon testicles inside a human patient’s scrotum. This was thought to improve the patient’s sex drive and memory, among other things (for example, it was guaranteed to result in the nickname “baboon balls”). If you think that’s weird, what’s even weirder is that this style of surgery became immensely popular and the good doctor soon had to set up a monkey farm staffed by a former circus-animal keeper to keep up with demand. At the height of this monkey madness, Voronoff’s techniques were a real talking point in society; the surgery was mentioned in a Marx Brothers film, ashtrays portraying monkeys protecting their nuts starting selling in Paris, and a new cocktail was named the Monkey Gland, presumably in honour of his work.
Voronoff’s work eventually fell out of favour because, surprise, surprise, his grafts did not live up to his claims. Those who’d once championed him now ridiculed his ideas – in other words, they now had the balls to point out he’d been wrong all along. Consigned to the endnotes of surgical history, his name and his odd work now come up mostly when people ask about the origins of this equally odd drink.
Ah yes, the drink. A curious mix of gin, OJ and absinthe, coloured (a lot) and sweetened (a little) with grenadine, the Monkey Gland is somewhat disappointing given the story behind its name. Bright pink and tasting largely of diluted absinthe, it lacks the balance of more nuanced cocktails but is strong enough to be a real ball-breaker – just like Voronoff himself.
30ml orange juice
Martini glass. Or a glass in the shape of a monkey skull, if you happen to have one handy.
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients and shake as though a monkey gland’s been grafted onto your nuts. Strain into the glass. Hold an orange above the glass. Eat a banana and swing from a tree. (Just kidding. But if a monkey gland really had been grafted onto your nether regions then you’d probably want to.) Using a vegetable peeler, remove a long piece of orange peel (avoiding the bitter white pith), then drop the peel into the drink.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Easier than being experimented on by a mad surgeon.
This version of the Monkey Gland appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail (Amy Zavatto, Harper Collins, 2013). Other versions call for mere drops of absinthe and grenadine; perhaps that would make the drink more appealing (and certainly less pink).
Sock monkeys wrangled by our friends at Make it Wednesday.