The 1795 Cocktail is one of the Negroni’s modern descendants, from the whiskey-based Boulevardier side of the family.
More specifically, it’s a direct riff on the Boulevardier’s rye whiskey variant, Dominic Venegas’s 1794 Cocktail.
Two things make the 1795 special. For starters, it exploits American whiskey’s affinity for sweetness, and for dark, earthy flavors; the 1795 showcases that affinity without allowing any single ingredient—even the whiskey—to take over the drink completely.
The other interesting characteristic is that it’s a relatively low-alcohol cocktail—not a shim, exactly, but it has only a third to half the alcohol of a modern Manhattan or Martini, and it’s still able to retain a full, rich flavor.
I first learned of the 1795 from Frederic Yarm’s Cocktail Slut way back in 2010. As intriguing as it sounded, I never mixed one. The ingredient list was a bit of a stretch for me at the time—I was just getting acquainted with amaros like Campari and Aperol, and Carpano Antica and Bittermens bitters weren’t even available in my market at the time—so I filed the recipe away.
I suspect many others have looked at this ingredient list and done the same:
Ted Gallagher, Craigie on Main, Boston, 2010
- 1–1½ oz rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
- ½ oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
- ½ oz Punt e Mes
- ½ oz Campari
- ½ oz Aperol
- 1 dropper Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into an iced rocks glass. Flame orange peel over the glass, and add the peel as garnish.
(You see what I mean about the ingredient list. It’s not exactly home bar friendly, especially for someone just beginning to stock the shelves.)
The recipe surfaced again this summer (I clean my desk every few years, always with surprising results); to my delight, I found that my pantry had accreted all the required items over time. I also knew more about how that list of ingredients could work together.
It was time to give the 1795 a try.
I’m glad I did.
With so many moving parts in the 1795, I recommend a high-proof rye as the whiskey base. My old standby is Rittenhouse 100, and it works very well in this drink. Yarm’s original posting of the recipe reports that Gallagher experimented with Michter’s, which is rather soft for this mix; the extra backbone in the Rittenhouse works much better.
(The original listing called for 1 oz. of whiskey; if you aren’t committed to the “low alcohol” aspect of the drink, you can improve the mix by pushing the whiskey measure up to 1½ oz.)
The main strategy in the 1795 is to start with the 1794, a simple mix of rye whiskey, Campari, and sweet vermouth, and to mix with two amaros and two vermouths. When the Campari is combined with the slightly sweeter and softer Aperol, the mix brings faint, sweet notes of orange, of earthy rhubarb and gentian, and a touch of bitter quinine to the formula.
Gallagher specified two vermouths: Carpano Antica, with its prominent vanilla notes, and Punt e Mes, which combines fruity sweetness with quinine bitterness.
The Xocolatl Mole bitters add a fine, earthy note to the drink, and of course, the chocolate, orange, vanilla and whiskey are all natural flavor partners.
Drinking the 1795: The nose is, of course, smoky orange, with another faint fruit note I can’t identify, but that reminds me of cherries. The first taste is herbal and sweet, then a little bitter and earthy, and finally resolves into a sweet chocolate and whiskey tail.
Compared to its direct inspiration, the 1794, and to its more remote ancestor the Boulevardier, the 1795 is more complex and earthy and a bit softer on the palate. It also seems a bit sweeter.
Overall, once you’ve gathered the ingredients, the 1795 is easy to mix and a delight to drink. And one of these days I’ll set up a tasting flight, the Boulevardier, 1794, and 1795 side by side. That would make an interesting evening at the bar.
“Scions of the Boulevardier: the 1795 Cocktail” at cold-glass.com : All text and photos © 2014 Douglas M. Ford. All rights reserved.