My partner found an old cocktail recipe booklet from 1936 in his friend’s attic. It’s called Fancy Drinks: How to Mix Them, and it’s only 40 pages, with no table of contents or categories.
The first page jumps right into the three-to-seven ingredient cocktails, with a quick sentence or two about how to make them. Almost all the recipes measure in jiggers, dashes, ponies or wine glasses. For example, the very first recipe, the Absinthe Cocktail, requires a quarter of a wine glass of water and three-quarters of a wine glass of absinthe, along with a dash of everything else. I rather like that style and may implement the wine-glass unit of measurement more often.
The very last page of the booklet has a list of technical mixing terms and tools. For your reference, a pony is a small glass holding two ounces, and a wine glass is a large glass holding two ounces. Helpful!
Thumbing through the booklet, I noticed some of the more classic cocktails had several versions that varied only slightly. The Old Fashioned Cocktail has four variations, with different amounts of sugar, different numbers of dashes of Angostura bitters, and different ratios of Italian vermouth (always Italian vermouth) to whiskey (rye, sometimes). Three takes on the Manhattan are presented, all very similar to the Old Fashioned, minus the sugar or orange, but always with the Italian vermouth. (My partner predicted there’d also be a lot of crème de menthe in the booklet’s recipes, as it was all the rage back then, and he was not wrong.)
It was a tough challenge to pick a cocktail from this booklet to make for this month’s column. I ultimately settled on the New Orleans Fizz. It sounded tasty, and more importantly, we had all the ingredients, and crème de menthe wasn’t involved. I even had orange flower water in my bar. (“Why?” you ask. Because that was one of the key ingredients in the Lembas Bread we made for our Hobbit-themed feasts and movie nights – one of our many attempts to entertain ourselves during the dark winter of COVID-19.)
“Fancy” or not, this was an easy cocktail to make. I was a little skeptical – the heavy cream we had on hand had expired a couple days prior, but it still smelled fine. After sniffing three of the gins I had in my bar, I chose the Hardshore for this drink, because I thought the hint of lemongrass would well complement the rest of the ingredients (it does), and Hardshore is a delightfully complicated gin that one can never go wrong with.
It turns out this New Orleans Fizz tastes like a lemon meringue pie, and now I demand more of both.
NEW ORLEANS FIZZ
1 jigger of dry gin
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 dashes of orange flower water
1 spoonful of granulated sugar
white of 1 egg
1 jigger of cream
dash of lime juice
Combine all ingredients, shake thoroughly, pour into lemonade glass and add fizz with some seltzer.
Sam Patel wanted a liquor license; he ended up with a landmark Portland corner store
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