This drink is the progenitor of the slightly better-known Montauk Riding Club Cocktail. It first saw print in 1895, when it appeared in George J. Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks. As opposed to the later Montauk Riding Club Cocktail, this drink’s only base spirit is quinquina, an aperitif wine bittered with cinchona bark, which is to say quinine.
This drink provided an excellent opportunity to use some of my Bonal Gentiane-Quina, a delicious quinquina that just became available in the United States this year. Its name reflects the fact that it’s bittered with both gentian root and cinchona bark. Baker actually calls for “calisaya,” but even though there’s a liqueur out there called “Calisaya,” it’s perfectly kosher to use Bonal here. According to Camper English, “calisaya” used to be a generic, all-encompassing term for quinquinas.
Okay, enough Talmudic cocktail divination. Here’s the drink:
- 1 jigger calisaya (2 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina)
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash acid phosphate (Extinct Chemical Company)
Stir with ice and strain into a Manhattan glass.
Good luck finding the acid phosphate anywhere other than Darcy O’Neil’s outstanding website. Between the Bonal and the acid phosphate, this drink is an excellent reminder that it would have been virtually impossible to complete this project only five years ago, before the Great Liquor Revival in which we currently find ourselves.
And I’m glad I could try this drink, because the Riding Club Cocktail is a perfectly splendid aperitif! Interestingly, the acid phosphate and Angostura actually tone down the Bonal’s bitterness a little. The result tastes something like a slightly lighter, less herbal fine vermouth, with a bit of sparkle from the phosphate.
I tried making this drink with Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Boker’s Bitters in place of the Angostura, and the result was even more delicious. The wintergreen note from the Boker’s was a nice addition to this drink, and better yet, it kept the drink bitter. Bitter your Bonal with Boker’s! Boker’s: The Better Bonal Bitterer. Okay, I’m going to lie down now.
Riding Club Cocktail: ★★★★★