Cafe de Paris Cocktail

Let’s get straight to the recipe this time, so I can rant about this drink as soon as possible:

  • 1 jigger gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater)
  • 1 tsp anis or anisette (1/2 tsp Luxardo Anisette)
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1 tsp cream

Shake with ice. Serve in cocktail glass.

Even with less anisette than called for, this was an excruciatingly awful drink. My notes describe it as “a heavy mess of creamy, gin-ny, anise-y badness.”

According to Baker, “ladies like it!” I sincerely hope that I do not know any ladies who would willingly consume this fetid glass of slop.

Aggressively not recommended.

Cafe de Paris Cocktail: ★☆☆☆☆ 

Posted in 1 Star, Anisette, Baker Drinks, Cream, Egg White, Gin on October 24, 2010 – 12:05 pm | Comments (1)

Gaby des Lys

Okay, enough bizarre Baker cocktails of dubious merit. Here’s one that actually deserves a place in a bartender’s standard rotation: The Gaby des Lys. It’s named after Gaby Deslys, a dancer and actress from Marseilles; she died in 1920 at the age of 38. (You can hear her sing if you’re the sort who enjoys French singers from 1910, which, as it turns out, I am not.) According to Baker, the drink predates Prohibition. Regrettably, I don’t have that many pre-Prohibition cocktail books, so I can’t say whether this drink had been published anywhere before. Someday that’ll change…

This is one of those Baker cocktails that needs a little tweaking. His original formula is nothing to write home about: Read More »

Posted in 3 Stars, 5 Stars, Absinthe, Angostura Bitters, Baker Drinks, Gin, Orgeat on October 18, 2010 – 9:56 pm | Comments (0)

Drink ratings, and a word on jigger sizes

I’m pleased to report that all drink recipes on this weblog, past and future, now include a rating of their overall quality. A five-star drink is the apotheosis of deliciousness, while a one-star drink is so bilious as to provoke gastrointestinal distress. You can search for drinks with a specific rating by clicking the sidebar links.

Also, about jigger sizes: Read More »

Posted in Throat-Clearing on October 10, 2010 – 4:42 pm | Comments (0)

Ile de France Special

I always feel a little torn when it comes to champagne cocktails. On the one hand, champagne is so delicious on its own—why bother adulterating it? On the other hand, you could say the same for any number of cocktail ingredients. But somehow my brain has a tough time equating champagne to, say, a fine cognac.

Anyhow, here’s a cocktail that includes both champagne and cognac, just to confuse things completely. Baker describes this one as a picker-upper, but it makes just as much sense as a standard cocktail. Read More »

Posted in 3 Stars, Baker Drinks, Champagne, Chartreuse (Yellow), Cognac, Orange Bitters, Sugar on October 8, 2010 – 12:37 pm | Comments (1)

Kilroy’s Bracer

Charles H. Baker, Jr., does not appear to have been a particularly light drinker. When you’re as fond of your liquor as he was, the subject of hangover cures assumes paramount interest.

Baker’s favored remedy seems to have been the hair of the dog, sort of. The Gentleman’s Companion includes a list of “TWENTY and SEVEN PICKER-UPPERS for the Nineteenth Hole, which Can not only Enable Us to Greet the New Day Undismayed but May—on Occasion—Save a Life.” (In fact, the list includes 33 such picker-uppers, but who’s counting?) Read More »

Posted in 4 Stars, Angostura Bitters, Anisette, Baker Drinks, Club Soda, Cognac, Egg, Lime on October 6, 2010 – 8:00 am | Comments (0)

Firpo’s Balloon

Moving right along, here’s another exemplar of the Baker, Jr., ouvre: The Absinthe Bomb. But more about that in a moment.

The recipe for Firpo’s Balloon happens to come with a typical Baker yarn, redolent with colonialism and the first person plural:

Our college mate C. Byron Spofford, at the time American Commercial Attaché in Calcutta for all of India, Burma and Ceylon, once gave a dinner celebrating the farewell of a very opinionated pair of men wished on him from Russian Famine Relief Headquarters by Herbert Hoover. We seem to recall their names as being Sabine and Renshaw, but that doesn’t matter—it didn’t then, and it certainly doesn’t now. The thing that does matter is that Firpo mixed us a special round of Balloons—named because the 5th one consumed is guaranteed to set us bobbing about up under the ceiling. Firpo’s is Calcutta’s one smart night spot. It was all very gay in spite of the Hoover syncophants.

One wonders how Baker felt about the End of Empire. He musn’t have been pleased. Read More »

Manila “Leap Frog” Cocktail

Okay! Let’s get this show on the road.

I thought I’d start with a drink that is in many ways the prototypical Charles H. Baker, Jr., cocktail:

  1. It comes from a colorful location—in this case, “Baguio, back in the Igorote Country of Luzon.”
  2. The recipe is presented in narrative form, rather than as a handy list.
  3. It has a good idea at its core but is more or less undrinkable as written.
  4. It comes with some suggested modifications from Baker, Jr., that still leave you with a pretty foul drink.

Unlike many of Baker’s cocktails, though, this one doesn’t come with a long shaggy-dog story about the circumstances under which the drink was consumed, or a mildly racist description of the bartender who served it to him.

Anyhow, let’s look at the recipe. Read More »

Posted in 2 Stars, Apricot Brandy, Baker Drinks, Grenadine, Lime, Rum on September 28, 2010 – 6:02 pm | Comments (1)

Play along at home!

Those of you who want to follow along with this adventure, and who went looking for a copy of the book on Amazon, have run into some trouble. I’m working from the 1946 edition of the book, which does indeed refer in its subtitle to a “jigger, beaker & flask.” For whatever reason, though, when the thing was reprinted in 2001, the publisher renamed the book Jigger, Beaker, & Glass: An Exotic Drinking Book. I heartily approve of the use of the serial comma, but otherwise this just seems needlessly confusing.

Anyhow, if you want to read along with me, go buy the 2001 reprint. I haven’t actually seen it, so I can’t vouch for its quality.

Thanks to Alex for pointing this out!

Posted in Throat-Clearing on September 28, 2010 – 8:13 am | Comments (0)

Embarking on the adventure

The world is full of cocktail books. Far too many of them, in fact. The shelves of the nation’s bookstores groan with copies of the worthless tripe that’s belched forth by America’s less discriminating publishers. Browsing these books is a dispiriting experience, and after looking at a few witless titles like 1,000,001 Gin Cocktails and The Ultimate Only Cocktail Guide You’ll Ever Need for Dummies, one starts to wonder if there isn’t a book out there that’s better; a book with pluck and a sense of derring-do; a book that is, in a word, exciting.

There is. And that book is The Gentleman’s Companion: Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask, by Charles H. Baker, Jr. Read More »

Posted in Throat-Clearing on September 22, 2010 – 9:18 pm | Comments (2)