Rosy Dawn Cocktail

The longer the yarn that accompanies a Charles H. Baker, Jr., cocktail, the nearer and dearer it was to his heart. And the page-and-a-half tale that accompanies the Rosy Dawn cocktail is actually quite sweet—it’s a pity that I can’t simply reproduce it here, as an example of just how charming Baker’s purple prose can be. I’ll summarize the story, though, starting with this part:

[A]fter many Rosy Dawns, [the wife of the editor of the Hongkong Telegraph] got so sentimental about our recent fiancée that she said as long as she couldn’t attend the wedding in person she would like to see us married somehow.

So on the spot, aboard a ship, they staged a raucous faux wedding ceremony. After a long night,

as we came finally up the spidery forward gangway the first fingers of a Rosy Dawn searched up and over the stark mountains surrounding Hongkong’s superb harbor, and painted the hull of the MARIPOSA a maiden blush tint where she lay just to the eastward of our own berth.

Awww, cute. I love it when a cocktail book gets all sentimental. Read More »

Wampanoag Cocktail

As relief from the recent spate of dicey Baker drinks, I thought I’d post this Thanksgiving-themed cocktail that I came up with the other night. Honestly, I think I knocked it out of the park on the first try with this one. (Not to brag or anything.) There’s maybe a bit too much maple flavor, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing.

The pumpkin inevitably gives the drink a bit of grittiness at first. Once the drink settles out a bit in the glass, though, the grittiness is replaced with a nice, thick body that owes as much to the pumpkin as the egg white.

I named the drink “Wampanoag” after the Native American confederacy of tribes, which hosted the 1621 harvest feast that inspired Thanksgiving.

Read More »

Posted in 5 Stars, Allspice Dram, Cardamom, Cognac, Egg White, Lemon, Maple Syrup, Original Drinks, Pumpkin, Rum on November 19, 2010 – 7:37 pm | Comments (4)

New weblog awesomeness

Wow, so many exciting changes on this weblog! Here’s a list of all the recent improvements: Read More »

Posted in Throat-Clearing on November 17, 2010 – 10:00 pm | Comments (7)

East India Cocktail

As you may have noticed by now, I’m more than happy to fiddle with Baker’s drinks in the name of palatability. However, I’ve tried to stay as close to his recommended garnishes as possible. That’s meant no garnish at all for the most part. Some of Baker’s drinks, though, call for very specific garnishes, not all of which are the easiest things to find in 2010.

Case in point: Green maraschino cherries.

Let’s take a trip in the Maraschino Wayback Machine, shall we? Read More »

Posted in 1 Star, Baker Drinks, Cherry, Orange Bitters, Sherry, Vermouth (French) on November 17, 2010 – 6:56 am | Comments (3)

Zamboanga “Zeinie” Cocktail

Zamboanga was a province of the Philippines back when Charles H. Baker, Jr., wrote his magnum opus. Baker’s description of the Zeinie Cocktail is a little microcosm of pre-World War II ephemera, including offhand references to a song called “The Monkeys Have No Tails in Zamboanga” (which wasn’t meant to be racist…or was it? Oh, God, I hope not…) and a humor magazine called Ballyhoo that published from 1931 to 1939. Oh, Wikipedia, what would I do without you?

The drink itself is even more interesting, and not at all racist: Read More »

Posted in 4 Stars, Angostura Bitters, Baker Drinks, Cognac, Lime, Maraschino, Pineapple Syrup on November 15, 2010 – 7:23 am | Comments (1)

Grande Bretagne Cocktail Nos. I and II

Charles H. Baker, Jr., describes the Grande Bretagne Cocktail No. I as “One of the Five or Six Chief Cocktails of the Whole Wide World.” Strong words, even for Baker! As you can imagine, I was eager to give it a try.

Versions I and II of this cocktail both came from a nameless Greek bartender who worked on the M.S. Bremen for Raymond-Whitcomb Cruises. Baker published his book in 1939, when the Bremen, built by Hapag-Lloyd and launched in August 1928, was still an international sensation. From Hapag-Lloyd’s history, written in 1929 present tense:

With her futuristic silhouette, [the Bremen] embodies technology, momentum and glamour in equal measure and is depicted in exciting modern poster art, becoming the icon, embodiment and highlight of the brief “golden” Twenties.

I was lucky enough to turn up one such iconic image, as you’ll see above. Read More »

Broken Spur

Many of Charles H. Baker, Jr.’s cocktail formulas are of interest not so much because of the cocktails themselves, but because of the stories that accompany them. I wish copyright law didn’t preclude my reproducing the entire tale that accompanies Baker’s recipe for the Broken Spur. Suffice it to say that Baker enjoyed this cocktail during a visit to China, his account of which begins with this doozy of a sentence:

Imagine Peking then, just before Japan had screwed up brass enough to defy Britain, and the rest of Europe’s Legations, and ours too by the way!—and had quietly occupied most of Imperial North China while everyone sat back like a lot of spineless ostriches with head in sand, and another lot of spineless men who violated their own sacred signatures behaved like a lot of schoolboys playing grownup around the League of Nations table at Geneva playing dice with an unfortunate and colorado maduro gentleman named Haile Selassie, whom no one much had ever heard of before.

That’s a lot of geopolitical commentary for a cocktail book! Read More »

Posted in 3 Stars, Anisette, Baker Drinks, Egg Yolk, Gin, Port, Vermouth (Italian) on November 7, 2010 – 4:00 pm | Comments (2)

Cap Haitien Rum & Honey

From Wikipedia: “Cap-Haïtien (Okap or Kapayisyen in Kréyòl) is a city of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti.” After the 2010 earthquake, relief supplies were delivered to Cap-Haïtien’s port.

Anyhow, the drink:

  • 3/4 jigger Bacardi (1 1/4 oz Rhum Barbancourt 15)
  • 3/4 jigger aged dark rum (1 oz Cruzan Dark)
  • 1 to 2 tsp strained honey (2/3 oz honey syrup*)

Stir well in an old-fashioned glass, then add half a glass of cracked ice and stir again. “No bitters, no garnish.”

Mmmm, sweetened rum! Read More »

Posted in 3 Stars, Angostura Bitters, Baker Drinks, Honey Syrup, Rum on October 30, 2010 – 6:28 pm | Comments (2)

Colombo “Flying Fish”

Baker reports that this drink “Was Taken into the Fold on a Memorable Night in Ceylon.” By “memorable,” does he mean that he only had a couple of drinks that night for once, instead of, like, 50? Ooh, zing.

Um, enough unwarranted snark. Here’s the drink:

  • 1 jigger gin (2 oz Beefeater)
  • 1/2 pony yellow Curaçao and 1 dash peach bitters, or 1/2 pony Cordial Médoc (1/2 oz Cointreau and 1 dash Fee Brothers peach bitters)
  • 1/2 tsp maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)

Shake with ice, then serve in a Manhattan glass garnished with a slice of orange.

I used Cointreau because I have yet to find a Curaçao that I actually like. Pity I didn’t have any Cordial Médoc, though. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it on offer anywhere, including Cask, my go-to spot for obscure liquor.

Anyhow, I think Baker probably had a memorable night in Ceylon because of the excruciating sweetness of this drink. Read More »

Posted in 2 Stars, 4 Stars, Baker Drinks, Gin, Maraschino, Orange, Peach Bitters on October 28, 2010 – 7:42 am | Comments (2)

Porto Flip

Returning to the picker-uppers, Baker brings us a variation on a very old flip formula. The port flip has been around since at least the 1887 edition of Jerry Thomas’ pioneering book of drinks, The Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks; A Bon Vivant’s Companion (whose name prefigures Baker’s book, no?). A flip, of course, is a drink that contains a whole raw egg. If that weirds you out, don’t knock it ’til you try it—a well-made flip is an uncommonly rich, delicious drink that makes an excellent digestif.

Thomas’ original recipe is a model of simplicity. Baker makes it richer and considerably boozier: Read More »

Posted in 3 Stars, 5 Stars, Baker Drinks, Chartreuse (Green), Cognac, Cream, Egg, Non-Baker Drinks, Nutmeg, Port, Sugar on October 26, 2010 – 10:00 pm | Comments (0)