Tag Archives: vintage cocktails

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Vintage Cocktails #75: The Mint Julep

Perhaps nothing defines a classic as much as the Mint Julep. First appearing in print in 1803, three years prior to the first defintion of a cocktail, the julep is complex and versatile, yet so simple at its core. While juleps rained supreme in the 18th and early 19th centuries, they soon gave way to the family of drinks known as “smashes”. Faster to prepare and consume, smashes meshed well with the increasing pace of American life.

While early juleps were likely mixed with cognac, the accepted spirit nowadays is bourbon. For the preparation of a proper julep, a few things are needed. Firstly, a traditional silver or pewter julep cup is essential, allowing frost to form on the outside of the cup and keeping the drink icy cold. Secondly, crushed ice is a must. I make my crushed ice by placing it into a canvas lewis bag and crushing it with a mallet. Thirdly, lots of nice fresh mint is needed both as an ingredient and as a very functional garnish.

So let’s begin. A traditional julep is made with just four simple ingredients, Spirit, sugar/syrup, ice, and mint. I switch mine up just a bit and use a sweet liqueur in place of the sugar, which adds a little bit of extra flavor to the drink. We start by gently muddling roughly a dozen mint leaves in the bottom of the cup. The goal here is to gently express the mint oils and coat the glass, not to shred the leaves to a pulp. I usually add the liqueur (Apricot in this case) at this time as I like to get the flavors incorporated. Next we will fill our cup with the crushed ice, and pour in our Bourbon. A quick stir is really all that is needed, just enough to get the cup to start frosting on the exterior. Then we will pile more crushed ice on top to give it that adult snow cone look. Then we will garnish with several large sprigs of mint, the more the better in my opinion, and place our straw nice and close, so that in sipping the beverage your nose is treated to the wonderful aromatics of the mint. And there you have it, a perfect summer sipper for those long hot afternoons. Cheers!

The Mint Julep
2 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Orchard Apricot Liqueur
Mint

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Vintage Cocktails #74: The Vowel Cocktail

It’s been a while since I have mixed up a cocktail from Vintage Spirits, partly due to the fact that there are only a few left and partly because I am missing some ingredients. Luckily for me, one of my favorite bartenders in town happened to pick up some Kümmel on his last liquor excursion.

Called for in just a few drinks, this caraway flavored liqueur works well in this cocktail, blending in with the Scotch and Vermouth. It doesn’t stand out, but instead provides a subtle addition to the drink. Be sure to use a less peaty/smoky scotch in this one. Cheers!

The Vowel Cocktail
1oz Scotch Whisky
1oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2oz Orange Juice
1/2oz Kümmel
Dash Angostura Bitters

Vintage Cocktails #73: Park Avenue Cocktail

Despite the name, this cocktail has more in common with a cool Florida night than it does with the streets of Manhattan. Ted Haigh expresses confused about the name of the drink as well.

Note, if you will, the tropical character, invoking Carmen Miranda strutting down a Palm Beach boulevard. As I say, the names of this and the Palm Beach Special preceding it, were obviously switched at birth.

This cocktail is light, fruity and complex, with pineapple being the dominant note in the aroma of the cocktail. On the taste, the gin and vermouth are at the forefront, with the pineapple and curacao rounding out the balance. I’m not sure what it was, but this cocktail did not suit my fancy in the least. I’m sure that some might think that it is fantastic, but I found the combination of ingredients absolutely horrific. I’ll have to give it at least one more chance, but maybe this one stayed forgotten for a reason.

Park Avenue Cocktail
2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Orange Curacao

Vintage Cocktails #72: The Flying Dutchman

Unlike the flavored vodkas of our day, companies used to produce flavored gins of high quality. Still distinctly a gin, yet with a predominant flavor that paired well with a gins traditional botanicals. Sadly, this is a category that is for the most part obsolete, although there are a few holdouts. This next drink utilizes one of those flavored gins, and while it can be made with a plain Jane variety, it lacks that extra spark that the flavored gin brings to it. Bright and cheery, this drink originates from the Dutch bar book Internationale Cocktailgids (1950), penned by famed dutchman W. Slagter. Cheers!

The Flying Dutchman
2 oz Orange Gin
Juice of 1/4 Orange
Juice of 1/4 Lemon
3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Vintage Cocktails #71: Barnum Was Right

Back in the days of Harry Craddock and Jerry Thomas, a simple ingredient swap, or even a garnish change, often dictated a completely different name for a cocktail. In this case we have a base of gin, paired with lemon/lime juice and Angostura bitters. Add some maraschino and you have the Aviation; add some Cointreau and you have the Pegu Club; or in this instance, add some apricot brandy and you have the Barnum Was Right Cocktail.

This cocktail is fairly well balanced, although mostly unremarkable; the apricot flavors pairing decently with the gin, and the bitters keeping the whole drink from becoming overly cloying. Maybe Barnum, or more accurately George Hull, was right. There is a sucker born every minute.

Barnum Was Right
2 oz Gin
1 oz Apricot Brandy
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters