Sunday, February 20, 2011

Exhibit #53: Prize Winners

Tonight we'll examine the three winning drinks from cocktail competitions held in London 1933-1935, which dovetails with the beginning of the UK Bartenders' Guild. Its first president was expat American Harry Craddock, lately of New York's Holland House and one of the area's leading barmen in the years leading up to Prohibition. In 1930 he published one of the early 20th century’s major cocktail books, The Savoy Cocktail Book, already into several printings by the time the UKBG published Approved Drinks in 1933 for its membership. Council member and head barman of the Café Royal, William Tarling, wished to share the techniques and recipes of that book with the public, with the revenues to benefit the UKBG's Sickness and Sports Funds. Tarling wanted to expand upon the guild's book, which was necessarily more oriented to standard repetoire, by publishing members' recipes and other new drinks he had collected. His efforts came to fruition in the form of the Café Royal Cocktail Book in 1937, not coincidentally the coronation year of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Which brings us to tonight, because I found these recipes in the Café Royal book. As to the competitions themselves, I assume they were sponsored by the UKBG. One thing that is clear, though - these guys really liked the combination of gin and Grand Marnier, as each of the three years’ winning cocktails featured these two liquors as a base. The Red Lion and Cliftonian both begin with equal portions, while the Royal Romance has twice as much gin to liqueur. But those similarities can make for an interesting night of drinking, as each cocktail exhibits how much of a change a third or fourth ingredient can make. Next week we'll look at some prize winners of the same period from the Continent.

Red Lion $8
1933's winner is composed of equal parts Beefeater and Grand Marnier, with half measures of orange and lemon juices, up with a sugar rim. By Arthur Tarling of the Cafe Royal. Surely he was a relation of William's, though I don't know what sort. It is the only one of the drinks presented both tonight and next week that had any legs as far as being republished or propagated by others.

Royal Romance $7
1934. Two parts Beefeater to one part each Grand Marnier and passion fruit juice, with a dash of grenadine, up. By J. Perosino.

Cliftonian $8
1935. Equal parts Beefeater and Grand Marnier, with one-third measures of Swedish Punsch and orange juice, up. By Bert Nutt.

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