Sunday, March 13, 2011
Exhibit #55: Regent's Punch & Dubonnet Cocktails
Regent’s Punch $6
Champagne, green tea, cognac, the juice and oils of two lemons, two small oranges, and a Seville (sour) orange, along with small amounts of Batavia Arrack, rum, maraschino liqueur and pineapple syrup.
This punch was the favorite of the Prince Regent, later King George IV, one of Britain’s most colorful and decadent royals. Quite possibly the punch was even created by him, as he was known to take an active interest in concocting alcoholic beverages. Regardless, by all accounts a bowl of this ambrosial nectar was kept at the ready at all times, even at his bedside, for much of his life.
Popularly referred to as “the first gentleman” on account of his style and manners – it was he that kicked the aristocracy’s powdered wigs to the curb, albeit after enemies began to tax wig powder. It’s no overstatement to say that George spent most of his life chasing skirts, drinking heavily, eating to excess, and spending vast sums of money far beyond his very considerable means. When he turned 21 in 1783, Parliament granted him an amount roughly equivalent to 9 million dollars, along with an annual stipend of about 7.5 million. It was nowhere near enough. Before the year was out he’d already begun to accumulate a pile of debts. Indeed, twelve years later he was in the red to the tune of 80 million. He was of course also a patron of the arts, counting Beau Brummell and John Nash among his close associates, and he had much to do with the founding of King’s College and the National Gallery. By all accounts a great wit, nevertheless public opinion turned against him as a result of his dissolute lifestyle, most infamously during the Napoleonic wars. By the time he ascended the throne in 1820 he was a wreck of a man and mostly kept himself out of public sight – morbidly obese, suffering from multiple illnesses, and quite possibly addicted to laudanum, an analgesic tincture containing all the active compounds of opium.
Do It with Dubonnet!
Dubonnet (rouge) is a French aperitif of the quinquina class - fortified, sweetened wines containing quinine among its principal additional components. It originated in the mid 19th century as a means to make quinine appetizing to members of the Foreign Legion stationed in North Africa – quinine has anti-malarial properties and encourages appetite.
The Queen Mother $6
A favorite of Queen Elizabeth II, who has one before lunch every day, as did her mother. Two parts Dubonnet to one part gin, on the rocks, with a lemon slice underneath the ice.
Ante Cocktail $7
Applejack with a little Dubonnet and Cointreau and a dash of Angostura, up.
Dubonnet Fizz $7
Dubonnet, orange and lemon juices, a little cherry liqueur, club soda, up. Number 50 in the 100 Fizz countdown.
Lafayette Cocktail $7
A variation on the Perfect Manhattan with Dubonnet stepping in for sweet vermouth. Rye whiskey, dry vermouth, Dubonnet, Angostura bitters, up or on the rocks.
Pool Cocktail $7
Equal parts Dubonnet, Lillet Blanc (the other major French quinquina) and cognac, with dashes of Fernet and absinthe – the latter as garnish. Served up.