Tag Archives: vermouth

Gin Sling

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Light and summery and somehow reminiscent of ginger beer without being cloyingly sweet, this cocktail is a classic for a reason. Its herbaceous undertones (courtesy of the vermouth) and zesty, fruity notes play well together; the only problem is, it’s far too easy to drink a bucketful in one go. Yum.

INGREDIENTS

45ml gin

30ml sweet vermouth (I used Martini Rosso)

22ml lemon juice

30ml sugar syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Soda water, to top up

Lemon or orange peel spiral, to garnish

GLASS

Collins

METHOD

Add all ingredients except soda and garnish to a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake hard, then strain into a Collins glass that’s half-full of fresh ice. Top up with the soda water and garnish with the peel.

RECIPE BY

In his book The Craft of the Cocktail (Clarkson Potter, 2002), where this cocktail appears, Dale DeGroff says this is a late 19th-century sling recipe.

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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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Palmetto Cooler

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Tasting a bit like a mint julep but with an earthy undertone, the Palmetto Cooler is a refreshing, reviving drink – perfect on a hot day when you’re feeling like cactus.

INGREDIENTS

60ml bourbon

15 ml apricot liqueur (confession: I substituted apricot brandy as that’s what I had handy. Don’t judge me)

15ml sweet vermouth

3 dashes Angostura bitters

120ml soda water

mint sprig

GLASS

Collins

METHOD

Two-thirds fill the glass with ice. Pour in everything except the soda water and mint sprig and stir. Then add the soda, stir again, and garnish with the mint sprig. (Two lots of stirring helps your drink to chill down quickly, so don’t think you can get away with bunging everything in the glass and stirring only once!)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

Easy.

RECIPE BY
This one’s from The Cocktail Bible by Steve Quirk (New Holland Press, 2010).

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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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Old Pal

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‘I say, Old Pal, how about a cocktail?’

‘Why certainly, but don’t Hogg the recipe book – pass it to Maureen so she can fix us a drink, quicksticks!’

Hello and welcome to the 1950s, when men chortled down the phone while secretaries made them such drinks as the Old Pal and workplaces, as a result, were almost enjoyable places. That’s the vibe I got when I tried the Old Pal, anyhow – with its rye whiskey kick and the bitter orange overtones of Campari, it seemed like the kind of old-school drink Don Draper would have for breakfast. Then again there are plenty of things Don Draper would have for breakfast, including his secretaries, so maybe that’s not the best way to judge a cocktail…

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Although I’m not a Campari fan I am determined to work out why other people are, and when I stumbled across this drink in a vintage cocktail book I thought it’d be worth a go. Containing rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari, the Old Pal is a perverted version of the Negroni, which contains gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. And that’s what it tastes like, too; like a watered-down version of a Negroni, even though you’d think the rye whiskey in the Old Pal would have a stronger flavour than the gin in a Negroni. It’s kind of boring, the sort of thing you drink just to get drunk. It’s the kind of drink that makes you realise why Negronis are still popular when Old Pals have fallen out of favour. It’s the kind of drink that could almost – almost – make me appreciate a Negroni, and that’s saying something.

‘I suppose it’s all about the delights of subtlety and nuance in a Negroni, as opposed to the straight-shooting ‘down the hatch, that’s the stuff’ of an Old Pal, Old Pal.’

‘Damn straight. Now let’s visit the Members Club and see if someone wants to taste your Old Pal, you don’t get much more subtle than that.’

Chortle.

OLD PAL

INGREDIENTS

Equal parts rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari. We used:

30ml Wild Turkey rye whiskey

30ml Noilly Prat

30ml Campari

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Stir all ingredients together in a mixing glass that’s half-full of ice. When it’s ice-cold (place the inside of your wrist on the outside of the glass to check, or just taste-test), strain into the old-fashioned glass and serve.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

How would I know, I got the secretary to make it.

RECIPE BY

This version appears in Cocktails and Mixed Drinks by Anthony Hogg (Optimum Books, 1981).

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Negroni

Nigel the zombunny hoped that was a glass of blood in front of him. He just didn't have the stomach for a Negroni.

Nigel the zombunny hoped that was a glass of blood in front of him. He just didn’t have the stomach for a Negroni.

In the lead-up to World Gin Day (June 13), it’s Negroni Week – that’s right, a whole week dedicated to one classic cocktail made of equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth. Bars around Melbourne are celebrating by donating money to various charities when customers order a Negroni, and while I really wanted to support this excellent excuse to drink, I dislike Campari so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like Negronis, either. And if there’s one thing worse than drinking a cocktail you don’t like, it’s paying for it – even if that money is going to charity. I still wanted to join the festivities, though, so I donated to charity by buying a cocktail book at an op shop and making a Negroni at home.

It couldn’t have been easier to make, though it was slightly disturbing seeing perfectly good gin (my favourite spirit) being sullied by bitter Campari and turned blood-red by the vermouth. And it couldn’t have been easier to decide who’d drink it; I took one sip, immediately declared I had made a horrific mistake and handed it to the CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer), who guzzled it, saying it was a brilliant cocktail that reminded him of the bittersweet soft drink Chinnotto…which I also don’t like. Even diluted with some soda water, the Negroni was just too bitter for me. Turns out you can like bitters, be bitter, and still not like bitter things such as Negronis. Who knew?!

I’ve read somewhere that people either love or hate Negronis – there is no in between. Based on 52 Cocktails’ scientific studies, aka tonight’s drinking session, I’d say 50% of people love them and 50% hate them. For the first group, here’s the recipe. On behalf of the rest of us – leave our gin alone!

NEGRONI

INGREDIENTS

20ml gin

20ml Campari

20ml sweet vermouth

strip of orange peel, pith removed

soda water, to top up

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Build over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Twist the orange peel over the top and add soda water if desired. (Other recipes have slightly different methods, such as stirring the drink until it’s ice cold – which I did – and garnishing with an orange wheel. Up to you.)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

If you can pour liquid out of a bottle, you can make this drink. Whether or not you can stomach drinking it is another thing altogether.

RECIPE BY

This version of the Negroni appears in The Liquid Kitchen – Party Drinks by Hayden Wood (Murdoch Books, 2004). Other recipes call for 30ml of each ingredient. If you really, really like Negronis you could probably make a massive one as long as you used enough ice and equal measures of all three ingredients. Sorry, but it ain’t something I’m ever going to try!

PHOTO CREDIT

No animals were harmed in the making of this photo. Nigel the zombunny, however (supplied by Make it Wednesday), has been well and truly traumatised.

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The Bronx

Bronx 3THE BRONX

According to an ad campaign for boxing and sportswear brand Everlast, ‘Nothing soft comes out of the Bronx’. Logically this means there are no marshmallow makers or pillow factories in the Bronx, and that Everlast’s tracksuits are made of something really hard, such as iron, which sounds mighty uncomfortable but would at least stay wrinkle-free. It also means the Bronx’s namesake drink should be a bracing, in-your-face kind of deal, and given that it’s basically an adulterated martini you’d think it would at least taste super strong.

But here’s the thing: it isn’t. Sorry, Everlast, but the Bronx cocktail is mellow and refreshing, with orange juice providing a slight sweetness and vermouth adding a little earthy bitterness. The balance of ingredients make this drink a real knockout; you’ll want to go round for round on this one.
INGREDIENTS
45ml gin (I used Tanqueray)
30ml freshly squeezed orange juice (if you want a pulp-free drink, strain it through a wire tea strainer before using)
5ml sweet vermouth (I used Cinzano Rosso, which oddly enough doesn’t have the word ‘vermouth’ anywhere on the label)
5ml dry vermouth (I used Noilly Prat, which reasssuringly does have ‘vermouth’ on its label, in tiny letters on the back)
Orange peel, as garnish
GLASS
Coupe
METHOD
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients and stir slowly with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds/until the mixture is chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Using a vegetable peeler or knife, remove a strip of orange peel (avoiding the white pith) to use as a garnish. Twist this over the drink, so the essential oils will be released into it, then add the peel to the drink. (If you look closely you can actually see the oils dispersing when you add the peel to the drink. It’s a bit like conducting a really lame primary school science experiment, only a lot tastier.)
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Can you squeeze an orange? Then you can make this drink. If you cannot squeeze an orange then I pity you, and store-bought juice will do.
RECIPE BY
This classic recipe appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail (Amy Zavatto, Harper Collins, 2013).
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