Category Archives: dry vermouth

Western Rose

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Sipping a Western Rose is a bit like travelling back in time. Back to a time when dusty-tasting cocktails were served in sawdust-filled saloons; back to a time when various vile-tasting alcohols were used to disguise the taste of even worse tasting alcohol; back to a time before better cocktails were invented. Yeah, it’s not that great. Kind of like a martini that went wrong; not apricotty enough to be light and fruity, not gin-ny enough to be a good stiff drink. Bah. There is a way to save it, though – see ‘But wait, there’s more’ below.

INGREDIENTS

45ml dry gin

25ml apricot brandy

25ml dry vermouth

dash fresh lemon juice

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Half-fill a mixing glass with ice. Add all ingredients and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Making it’s easy. Drinking it’s kinda hard, cause it’s not that nice. See ‘But wait, there’s more’ for how to improve this drink.

RECIPE BY
This version of the Western Rose is in The Cocktail Bible by Steve Quirk (New Holland Press, 2010).

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

As I said, the above recipe makes a dry, somehow dusty tasting thing that reminds me of what a grandma would have drunk in the 1970s and that I would not bother making again. I was determined to drink this one, though, if only so as not to waste the gin. And so, in an attempt to improve the beverage, I added 15ml Cointreau, resulting in a not unpleasant marmalade flavour. As 52 Cocktails CTO said, ‘Now it’s like a breakfast martini – just serve it with hot buttered toast.’

Martinis at breakfast? Now that’s something worth time-travelling for…

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New 1920 Cocktail

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I’ve often thought it would be great to travel back to the 1920s. All those glamorous cocktail parties! Flapper dresses! Racy new dances! Men in dapper suits! Sneaking into speakeasies past midnight! It’d be absolutely copacetic!

At least, that’s what history’s rose-tinted glasses would have you believe. And yet the 1920s were also when Prohibition kicked in and the Wall Street crash led to the Great Depression.

Maybe it’s best to revisit the past via a cocktail book instead; it’s cheaper, and doesn’t rely on having a time machine, for a start. Plus, it gives me a great excuse to show off one of my best-ever op shop finds: a copy of The Savoy Cocktail Book, bought for $2 in near-mint condition and now very much a prized possession. I’ve read so much about this book in other cocktail books, and now that I have a copy (and did I mention it was only $2?) I can see why. It’s beautifully illustrated, many of the recipes are classics that bars are still serving today (though I do wonder about some of the measurements, as some recipes call for ‘a glass of gin’), and the writing is refreshing and lively, just as a good cocktail should be. In short, if you ever see a copy, BUY IT – especially if it’s only $2 – and let it transport you to another era.

NEW 1920 COCKTAIL

Presumably this cocktail, which is basically a riff on a Manhattan with rye and orange bitters, was created in the 1920s; there’s no preamble to the recipe in The Savoy Cocktail Book. And yet, here in Australia, orange bitters have only become widely available in the past few years, as far as I know. Interesting, thinking a recipe that was served at the Savoy Hotel in London in the 1920s could only be easily made in Australia post-2000. What the hell else has the land Down Under been missing out on for all these years?! It’s enough to drive me to drink! Luckily, the New 1920 Cocktail is at hand…

The Savoy Cocktail Book lists the recipe as follows:

1 dash orange bitters

1/4 French vermouth

1/4 Italian Vermouth

1/2 Canadian Club whisky

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

52 Cocktails interpreted this as:

INGREDIENTS

1 dash orange bitters (we used Angostura orange bitters)

15ml Noilly Prat

15ml Cinzano Rosso

30ml Wild Turkey Rye whisky (as we didn’t have any Canadian Club, and they’re both rye-based so we figured it’d be OK)

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients and shake it, hard. As The Savoy Cocktail Book‘s author Harry Craddock says in the foreword, ‘Shake the shaker as hard as you can: don’t just rock it: you are trying to wake it up, not send it to sleep!’

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Now that Angostura Orange Bitters are stocked at most Dan Murphy’s stores, this one’s a doozy.

RECIPE BY

This recipe is from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (first published 1930 by Constable & Co; this edition published 1987 by Spring Books)

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