Saturday, September 24, 2011

Exhibit #77: A Few from the Savoy

Most of this week’s drinks come from the major cocktail guide of the Prohibition Era, The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, published in 1930. When Prohibition struck, Craddock was one of NYC’s top barmen and held court at the prestigious Hoffman House. Like many others, he emigrated to Europe in 1920 to find work and landed at London’s Savoy Hotel. According to contemporary reports, the English, especially the older generation, did not take to cocktails at first. Said Harry: “The Englishman prefers to sip his whisky and soda, not to toss it off quickly. For that reason he does not take to cocktails.” Yet within a year there were newspaper reports expressing concern about the ‘new fad’ and especially that young women were taking to cocktails in droves.

Craddock himself is well-remembered for his book, one of the first to be encyclopedic in nature, as well as his personal style. “Mixed drinks being a part of our social system, we should know mixed drinks, if we care to be thought cultured. The knowledge is easily obtained.” (New York Times, 24 September, 1911). The Savoy book contains many of his original drinks as well as most of those invented in the previous century. His best known creations today include the Corpse Reviver no. 2, White Lady, and Alaska Cocktail.

Harry was once asked what was the best way to drink a cocktail. “Quickly, while it’s laughing at you!”

Loud Speaker $8
Dry gin, cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice up. Clearly a Sidecar variation, but leaning heavier on the spirit end of the equation (3:1 instead of 2:1), with cognac sharing stage with some dry gin. “This it is that gives to Radio Announcers their peculiar enunciation. Three of them will produce oscillation, and after five it is possible to reach the osculation stage.”

Nervo-Knox $7
Reprised from last week since it was so well-liked. One of those rare pre-WWII vodka cocktails: Chopin rye vodka, blue curacao, lemon and lime juices, up. Think of it as an early, more complex Kamikaze…in color. Inspired by the British acrobatic comedy team of Jimmy Nervo and Teddy Knox, also members of the Crazy Gang troupe who were active both on stage and the British screen.

Nick’s Own Cocktail $10
Equal parts cognac and red vermouth (Carpano), with a dash each of absinthe and Angostura, up. Presumably Nick was a regular or bartender at the Savoy.

Normandy $8
Not from the Savoy book, just a great one for this time of year: apple cider, cognac, calvados (French apple brandy), and gin (Hendrick’s) in a 4:3:2:1 ratio, up.

One Exciting Night $7
Equal parts Plymouth gin, Dolin dry vermouth, Carpano Antica red vermouth, with a dash of orange juice, up with sugar rim.

Oriental Cocktail $8
Bulleit rye whiskey, Grand Marnier, Carpano Antica, lime juice, up. “In August 1924, an American Engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines, and only the extraordinary devotion of Dr. B. saved his life. As an act of gratitude the Engineer gave Dr. B. the recipe of this Cocktail.”

Perpetual Cocktail $7
Equal parts Carpano Antica and Dolin dry vermouths, with small amounts of crèmes de violette and cacao, up. Like drinking a garden. Hugo Ensslin, 1916.

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