Raiders of the Lost Cocktail is a new monthly event held over at The Spirit World, where the challenge is to find a tasty cocktail using the featured obscure ingredient. This month that ingredient is Bénédictine, a liqueur I have covered previously and very much enjoyed, so I thought it would be fun to try and find some cocktails to enter.
My chosen recipe book for tonight was the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, an excellent compendium of pre-prohibition drinks. Like The Savoy Cocktail Book it is heavy on recipes and light on description, so it was very much a case of picking drinks that sounded good and hoping for the best. The recipes are produced here as printed, but where ingredient measurements are not entirely clear I have included my own interpretation in brackets.
- One-fifth (½ shot) dry vermouth
- One-fifth (½ shot) sweet vermouth
- One-fifth (½ shot) Bénédictine
- One-fifth (½ shot) white rum
- One-fifth (½ shot) orange juice
- Stir all ingredients well with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass.
The Tango was a popular dance during the 1910s, so much so that two cocktails were named after it. This, the second one in the Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, caught my eye due to the combination of rum and vermouth – a pairing I have enjoyed before in an El Presidente.
It is a light and refreshing drink, with orange and rum leading the taste and the floral mix of vermouth following. The drink is slightly sweet, though not cloying, and has a very subtle herbal undertone from the Bénédictine. Overall a very enjoyable cocktail that successfully combines all the ingredients in to a good, if not overwhelming, drink.
- One-half (1 shot) Plymouth gin
- One-half (1 shot) sweet vermouth
- One spoon (¼ shot) Bénédictine
- Dash of (2 dashes) orange bitters
- Stir all ingredients well with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.
The Guion, so the recipe book tells us, was named after a member of the family who owned the Guion line of steamships. When making the drink I took a sneaky sip prior to garnishing and was rather disappointed, finding the drink quite sweet and with the vermouth dominating, making it quite one-dimensional.
However, in yet another demonstration of the power of the garnish, once I had cut a piece of lemon zest over the drink, imparting all that amazing juice, the drink was transformed. Vermouth was still the back-bone of the drink providing a lovely spicey, floral taste, but the cocktail had become far less sweet. This allowed the gin and the herbal notes of the Bénédictine to become more obvious, making for a lovely, balanced cocktail.
I was pleased with how nice both these cocktails turned out to be. Trying old recipes can sometimes be a bit of a gamble but while neither of these were stunning, they were both enjoyable cocktails that are worth trying. If you’ve never sampled Bénédictine before, use this month’s Raiders of the Lost Cocktail as an excuse to go out and buy yourself a bottle. You really won’t regret it.
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