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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get stirring with the Corpse Reviver Cocktail

The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) continues to be a treasure trove of interesting cocktails. Thumbing through it on a day off resulted in the discovery of an amusing sketch of “the beautiful Lady Cynthia, after imbibing a Corpse Reviver Cocktail.” The sketch of red-faced Lady Cynthia piqued my interest. For some unknown reason, the recipe for the Corpse Reviver turned out to be thirty pages away, and it came with the advice that a Corpse Reviver could be “taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.” A quick glance at the clock told me that a little fast action would get me in just under the wire, and all the ingredients were available. Hopefully, you invested in some apple jack when you tried out the Jack Rose, and you should have some Italian Vermouth around the house.

There are a variety of Corpse Reviver cocktail recipes to be found on the web (there are two in the Savoy book alone), and they are sometimes classified under the “hair of the dog” type of hangover cure. You can be the judge of that. The blend of flavors in this cocktail is enjoyable, so give it a try. With Halloween just around the corner, this is one cocktail recipe we will have to revisit. The following recipe is faithful in proportion to the Savoy, but you should, as usual, play around with proportions to get the right taste for you.

Corpse Reviver (No. 1)

1 ½ oz Cognac or Brandy

¾ oz Calvados or Apple jack

¾ oz Italian Vermouth

Combine ingredients with cracked ice in a mixing glass. Stir briskly until it’s far colder than a (shudder) corpse. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon. Prepare yourself for a high energy day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pink Gin: a cocktail the Pilgrim Fathers would have enjoyed

Discovered the other day while trying to get caught up on my cocktail blog reading was Erik Ellestad’s recent post on the Pink Gin, a simple cocktail recipe with only two ingredients that delivers a surprising treat. The striking photos on Erik’s site told me that this was one cocktail I had to try. The recipe is one that Ellestad was mixing for his project to recreate every cocktail recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), and he faithfully recreated that recipe (well, except for serving it on crushed ice). He also mentioned that the recipe was explored in Dr. Cocktail’s (Ted Haigh’s) book “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails”, a copy of which sits near my easy chair. Ted has experimented with the recipe enough that he recommends a couple of specific gins and has upped the bitters from a single dash to a grand total of six! That’s two “goodly dashes” of bitters per ounce of gin.

Just these two sources gave me plenty of variations to play with to develop a recipe that I could write home (or, at least, you) about. First step was a little less gin. Harry Craddock calls for a glass, and Haigh wants three ounces. That’s a little much for most people, especially if you like to have more than one cocktail. The amount of bitters, however, was intriguing. Erik went for the Savoy’s single dash (although there’s no way there was only one dash in his photos), while Dr. Cocktail went for six. Could the gin hold up to that bitter assault? The bottle of Plymouth gin that I had in my bar definitely did. The drink was surprisingly good in spite of its simplicity, and sipping the gin that was probably the last gin the Pilgrim Fathers threw back before departing England is a patriotic bonus. This cocktail is great on the rocks or straight up; I prefer rocks because the cold offsets the bitters, but you should experiment both ways to determine your preference.

Pink Gin

2 oz Plymouth Gin

4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Pour the gin into a mixing glass 2/3 full of ice. (If serving up, add the bitters now.) Stir briskly until it looks cold enough. Strain into a chilled white wine glass 2/3 full of ice and dash the bitters on top. (If serving up, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.) Garnish with good will and enjoy!