Wednesday, November 17

Abbey Cocktail

Being a (cocktail) nerd requires, amongst other things, a lot of sources. The internet has largely done away with the need to have a lot of actual, "physical" books, but I've found that once people know that you like making drinks, you get a lot of interesting gifts. One that I got recently is an old copy (probably 1948) of the Old Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender's Guide from an aunt who found it in her basement. Blatantly stealing an idea from this guy, I find myself only reaching for a handful of cocktails (the Mai Tai, the Manhattan or Old Fashioned when out, the Martini when I'm feeling elegant) when I need a good drink, so I've decided to take this book in depth, and make every drink. From Abbey Cocktail to Zombie.

All that knowledge for only $2.00...

Is there likely a lot in this book that's just awful? Sure. Are there as yet undiscovered gems? Who knows. To me, at least, if I found even one great drink that I knew nothing about, it would be worth it. So here's hoping...

A few notes before beginning. First, this might take me a while. There's like 157 pages. That's a lot of booze. Kids, don't try this at home. Even having one a day would probably take me more than a year, and I have no intention of doing that, or of getting rid of a lot of my music content; after all, that's why most of you are here! But when I do something, I tend to...obsess. A bit. So we'll see. Next, I probably won't mention it too much, but unless otherwise noted, use fresh juices. It makes a world of difference, especially considering that this book was written in the late 40's when that's all they did, so the particular ratios are likely balanced for that. Lastly, because it's funny to me, this book recommends Old Mr. Boston brand alcohol, which don't exist anymore. So I'll make a note of what I use, but keep in mind that every product has a different flavor profile (man, I sound like an alcohol marketer), so I can only really say it works or doesn't work based on what I'm using. I will have a "standard" gin, rum, brandy, and so forth, but feel free to tinker! Some recipes don't sing until you've got the right spirit in the glass.

Abbey Cocktail:
  • 1 1/2 oz Dry Gin (Seagram's)
  • Juice of 1/4 orange (~1/2 oz)
  • 1 dash orange bitters
Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. Add a Maraschino Cherry.

A very simple Bronx cocktail (which is one that we'll get to, eventually).

This is going to sound exceptionally odd, but for a good, generic gin, I'm actually not opposed to Seagram's. There are certainly better gins out there, and there's been a big move towards less juniper-centric gins in recent years, but my test cocktail for gin is the Martini. If it makes a good one, it's a good gin. And honestly, Seagram's gives me everything I need in a gin, and the price is outstanding. So it's the default.

One other point I'd like to make, and this one is about technique: whenever I strain something that's been shaken, and it's going into a glass without ice (such as in this example, and as opposed to shaking, say, a Mai Tai), I fine-strain it (right around 1:20). Mostly this just keeps ice shards out of the drink so that what comes out of the shaker stays consistently diluted from the first sip to the last.

The verdict: pleasant enough. While the Seagram's isn't the smoothest alcohol ever, it's assertive enough to mix with and the water coming off of the shake tames it well. The drink doesn't really sparkle, which is usually one of my complaints when you have an orange-juice based drink that gets diluted from the shake, rather than just being built. You get a nice orange flavor, which is always fine when mixed with gin. The orange bitters don't really add much, and it always puzzles me when a drink calls for orange bitters and orange juice; it's like it's trying to get everything to play nice, but it tends to make things kind of bland.

In the eternal words of Homer Simpson: "It passed the first test: I didn't go blind."

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