Thursday, January 10, 2013

Caprice Cocktail

Tonight, Keith is in New York City drinking with friends at Little Branch.  He let me know that it was cocktail time and asked that I pick his poison - bourbon or gin.  I wrote that I usually go bourbon, but that tonight I was headed for gin.

He said he usually goes gin, but that tonight he needed some warmth, so he was going to go bourbon first.  Which actually isn't letting me pick his poison, but that's what friends are for.

After we agreed to do a three-thousand mile *clink* I was left with figuring out what form my gin would take.

Since Keith is in NYC, I grabbed my PDT Cocktail Book.  PDT - in NY -  is the third greatest bar I've ever been to, and its book, by Jim Meehan, is the best cocktail book to come out in ages, so of course I grabbed it.

Choices choices.

I was going to go with the

2.5 oz. Tanqueray Gin
1 oz.  Martini Bianco Vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with an orange twist

--Jim Meehan, New York, 2005

...but I didn't have an orange for the twist, and yes, the devil is in the details.  Then, fortunately, my eye caught the

1.5 oz. Beefeater gin
1.5 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Benedictine
1 dash orange bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with an orange twist
--Hyman and Gale, The How and When, 1940

...and that looked terrific, so I stopped there.  Even though that blasted orange twist was again staring me in the face.

In Mr. Meehan's sidebar next to this drink, he wrote Abe Marco and Hyman Gale imported fine wine and spirits in Chicago.  Their manual includes an extensive wine and spirits overview and a fine collection of classic and unusual concoctions.

I happen to have a copy of The How and When on my shelf - it's usually near the PDT - but I thought it was by Marco and I thought it was earlier than 1940, so maybe it was a different book?

Turns out I had the same book Mr. Meehan had, but the attribution on the spine is indeed By Marco, and the copyright - at least for my first edition - is 1937, and there are two authors listed inside, Hyman Gale and Gerald Marco, not Hyman and Gale.

No big deal.  I don't expect Mr. Meehan to be one of our most brilliant mixologists and a scrupulous copy editor at the same time.  If we could choose, we'd choose the former, and that's the important thing.

Marco's The How and When is one of those delightful old cocktail books that have ads for various spirits

Drambuie, Britain's Premier Liqueur Since 1745, The Liqueur That Satisfies

Muirhead's Blended Scotch Whisky - The Taste Tells

...for drink-related paraphernalia

The New Brunswick Bantam Cocktail Wagon / Compact - Efficient - Convenient - Complete - Smart - Modern also has a quaint introduction from Abe Marco - Gerald's father, presumably:

1888                                                                       1938

What Half a Hundred Years Have Meant

     How swiftly they have gone--these past fifty years that now usher in our Golden Jubilee.  Yet, they have been years full of fond memories and most pleasant associations.
     We wish to dedicate these years which have passed, to the future which is to be, and are doing this through the medium of this little book which I trust you will permit me to present to you.

Abe Marco

...and finally, of course, those classic and unusual concoctions that Mr. Meehan promised.

The Caprice was there, on page 101, but Mr. Meehan had updated it just a bit.  The original recipe calls for this:


Do I love this coupe?  I do.
2/3 jigger Dry Gin
1 spoon French Vermouth
1 spoon Benedictine
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake well into Cocktail Glass
Add a ripe Olive
--Marco, The How and When, 1937

...which is so similar to Mr. Meehan's update.  But, to my delight, Marco called for an olive as a garnish, which I had - unlike the orange twist, which I didn't - and since I was going with Marco's garnish I also went with his two dashes instead of Mr. Meehan's one.  I like me some bitters, I do.

And olives - so two of those, also.

So that's where Keith's prompt led me tonight.  A journey through two wonderful cocktail books, one new, one old, and an introduction to a beautiful cocktail - The Caprice.

So Keith?


To your health.