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The Olympic Cocktail

The Lusitania, the Kaiser Wilhelm, the Titanic—before World War I, the great ocean liners were the peak of traveling adventure, luxury, and technology. It was the age of the “greyhounds of the seas.”

Their British and German owners competed for speed, for luxury, and for bragging rights; the twenty years between 1895 and 1915 saw the launches of ever-larger ships, each more lush and decadent than its predecessors. The story of the Titanic provides one of the world’s best-known cautionary tales about the dangers of overweening pride in technology, but, oh, that was a handsome, luxurious, and well-fed ship—for all of the five days it stayed afloat.

As it turns out, the Titanic had a sister ship; Continue reading “The Olympic Cocktail”

What’s Wrong with the Blood and Sand Cocktail?

I wouldn’t normally write about the Blood and Sand Cocktail.

I don’t like it. I’ve never met anyone who likes it. The flavors make no sense to me. Four ingredients, all fighting with each other.

Harry Craddock must have seen something in it when he first published its peculiar formula in his 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. And drinkers with palates different from mine must like it, as evidenced by its continued presence in highly respected bar manuals more than eighty years after its creation.

(And, of course, there’s the theatrical value of that lurid name, riding the coattails of Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 movie. I’ll admit, that’s really good.)

But from my palate’s point of view, the Blood and Sand is really broken. So what makes this cocktail worth writing about?

Continue reading “What’s Wrong with the Blood and Sand Cocktail?”

Another Round of Whiskey Sours: the Ward 8 Cocktail

As the saying goes, “myth and legend are the kudzu of history,” and cocktail history is as much overgrown as any.

Today’s case in point: the pre-Prohibition Ward 8 Cocktail, one of the most famous of classic whiskey sour variations.

Continue reading “Another Round of Whiskey Sours: the Ward 8 Cocktail”

Extra effort, extra reward: the Pearl Diver’s Punch

Cocktailing is not so very different from cooking or baking—gather ingredients, follow the recipe, enjoy—but while I’ll put up with all sorts of preparation and procedure in baking or in cooking dinner, I find that I value simplicity and off-handed quickness in drink making.

Continue reading “Extra effort, extra reward: the Pearl Diver’s Punch”

The Monkey Gland Cocktail

Embarrassing name and all, today’s classic cocktail is the Monkey Gland.

It’s a good cocktail—in fact, it’s a delicious cocktail—but I’m trying to picture myself ordering one across a bar.

“Good evening, Miss, I’ll have a Monkey Gland, please. And keep them coming.” Continue reading “The Monkey Gland Cocktail”

Mixing with honey: the Bee’s Knees

Relatively few cocktails use honey as a sweetener. I suspect honey’s assertive and variable flavor is the likely reason—cane sugar’s simplicity and predictability make it a more attractive standard for amending cocktails.

But honey is one of Summer’s great delights, and there are some cocktails that include it.

The best known is the Prohibition-era’s Bee’s Knees. Continue reading “Mixing with honey: the Bee’s Knees”

Feeling bitter in the Bronx — the Income Tax Cocktail

I still remember the first time I filled out a tax form. I felt very official and bureaucratic; I was an important part of the American economy.

Of course, I didn’t make enough money that year to actually owe any taxes—I was filing to get all my withholding back. But still… Continue reading “Feeling bitter in the Bronx — the Income Tax Cocktail”

Punch and Rum — the Doctor Cocktail

The hallmark ingredient of the Doctor Cocktail is Swedish Punch, a liqueur that tastes very much like a sweetened Jamaican rum, with caramel, molasses and plenty of leathery “hogo” at the forefront, and faint notes of smoke, spice and fruit. Continue reading “Punch and Rum — the Doctor Cocktail”

The Stork Club Cocktail

Since we’ve been on a gin-and-orange kick, I thought I’d add the Stork Club Cocktail to our list of Prohibition-era drinks. The Stork was famous mainly for its celebrities and its “New Yorkiness,” but its flagship cocktail is worth notice, too.

Continue reading “The Stork Club Cocktail”

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