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The James Joyce Cocktail

Gary Regan’s fortnightly column “The Cocktailian” is particularly apt in this edition, as the Professor mixes us a cocktail based on Irish whiskey and named after one of Ireland’s greatest writers. Wes and I have been enjoying this one for a while now, having gotten the recipe from an account of one of Gary’s Cocktails in the Country seminars. Gary calls for Black Bush, and I’m fond of Jameson 12 or John Power’s.

I’ll have this one on Thursday to toast my forthcoming trip to Ireland (and to help drown out the little voices that’ll be saying, “So, how the hell do ya t’ink you’re going to pay for this, ya mad feckin’ eejit?”)

The James Joyce Cocktail
1-1/2 ounces Irish whiskey.
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth.
3/4 ounce Cointreau.
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice.

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
We like a stemless cherry garnish as well.

Apparently this drink was created by mistake, when making an Oriental someone reached for Irish whiskey instead of rye. “Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” wrote James Joyce. Little did he know how well this can apply to cocktails, as the most popular drink at the wonderful little tiki bar in Silver Lake is called Tiki Ti is called “Ray’s Mistake”…

The Vermouth Cocktail

Gary and Mardee Regan have done it again; I learn so many wonderful things from these guys. They’ve dug up a book called The Speakeasies of 1932, in the course of Gary’s researches for The Joy of Mixology. Among many other fascinating details about what it was like to drink in a speakeasy during Prohibition, they dug up this little gem of a drink.

I have to say I was initially skeptical about a cocktail consisting almost entirely of vermouth, and we were prepared to make one to try it (so that we could toss it if we didn’t like it and not fret about wasting two drinks worth of liquor). Turns out we made another one immediately. It’s terrific, light and one of those great examples of cocktail alchemy. I highly recommend this to anyone who wishes to exercise a sophisticated palate but doesn’t want to get hammered too fast.

Vermouth Cocktail
(adapted from a Prohibition-era speakeasy cocktail)

1 ounce sweet vermouth.
1 ounce dry vermouth.
2 dashes of Angostura bitters.
2 dashes orange bitters.
2 dashes grenadine.
1 lemon twist, for garnish.

Shake all the ingredients over ice, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Add the garnish.

Spicy, complex and easy on the noggin. We likes it!

Cocktail of the Birthday, Part Deux: Move Over

Okay, so the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster might have been a bit impractical. (We didn’t quite have all of the ingredients.) Once again, it’s CocktailDB to the rescue. Apparently Wes was impressed enough with my results from it last night that he consulted our cocktail oracle again tonight, this time looking for interesting-looking cocktails with one particular ingredient in mind. He chose this one, which fooled me almost entirely. I guessed wrong as to the base spirit, although I guessed the modifiers correctly. It’s another one of those cases of cocktail alchemy where the whole is completely different from the sum of its parts.

Move Over Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces gin.
1/2 ounce dry vermouth.
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth.
1/4 ounce Cherry Heering.
1 dash aromatic bitters.

Stir with ice in a mixing glass and strain;
garnish with twisted lemon peel.

For the aromatic bitters we used Angostura; try Fee’s, Bitter Truth, Peychaud’s or whatever you have on hand. I expect each one will produce a drink of an entirely different character.

Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster

The ultimate answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe and Everything. That’s me! Today, November 11, 2003, I am 42.

It was very nice of them to design the Earth-sized and -shaped computer Deep Thought and have it work on me for billions of years. I only wish I knew what the question was.

Given the significance of today’s birthday, there really can be only one drink with which I can celebrate. Robb was thoughtful enough in another comments thread to suggest Sazeracs — a splendid suggestion, no doubt — but today only this will do.

The best drink in existence, according to Douglas Adams, is the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. The effect of drinking one of these is rather like having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon, wrapped around a large gold brick. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will tell you on which planets the best ones are brewed, how much you can expect to pay for one, and which voluntary organizations exist to help you recover afterwards.

Fortunately, the Guide also tells you how you can make one yourself. (And, of course, it’s gin-based.)

Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster

1 bottle Ol’ Janx Spirit.
1 measure Santraginean seawater.
3 cubes frozen Arcturan MegaGin.
4 liters Fallian marsh gas.
1 measure Qualactin Hypermint Extract.
1 Algolian Suntiger tooth.
Zamphour to taste.
Olive garnish.

Take the juice from one bottle of the Ol’ Janx Spirit (see page 15 of the actual Guide).

Pour into it one measure of water from the seas of Santraginus V — Oh, that Santraginean seawater, it says. Oh, those Santraginean fish!

Allow three cubes of Arcturan MegaGin to melt into the mixture (it must be properly iced or the benzene is lost).

Allow four liters of Fallian marsh gas to bubble through it, in memory of all those happy hikers who have died of pleasure in the marshes of Fallia.

Over the back of a silver spoon float a measure of Qualactin Hypermint Extract, redolent of all the heady odors of the dark Qualactin Zones, subtle, sweet and mystic.

Drop in the tooth of an Algolan Suntiger. Watch it dissolve, spreading the fires of the Algolan suns deep into the heart of the drink.

Sprinkle Zamphour.

Add an olive.

Drink… but… very… carefully.

If my brains are bashed out, I’ll just get a second head.

The Culross Cocktail

I love CocktailDB. This massive, years-in-the-making collaborative project between Martin Doudoroff and Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh, still a work-in-progress, contains a database of over 4,700 authenticated cocktail recipes (from trusted published sources). When I’m in the mood for a particular spirit combined with a particular ingredient but can’t think of a recipe offhand, I’ll go to CocktailDB, input the ingredients and it’ll give me a list of cocktails featuring those ingredients. (This is like Webtender, you say; not so. The main difference is that CocktailDB doesn’t contain 10,000 vile drinks thought up by college frat boys and you won’t get those in your search results.)

We had a wonderful day on Saturday — some friends came over and brought fixins for goi cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls), I made Shrimp Creole, and we had lots of cocktails. On Sunday evening we were thinking of what we might want to have before dinner, and Wes pointed out that so far this weekend we’d had whiskey-, vodka- and gin-based cocktails. I thought, time for some rum. I was also keen to play with the bottle of Marie Brizard Apry, so I input “rum” and “apricot brandy” into CocktailDB … and came up with this one. As far as I know, it first appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book. It’s light and quite lovely.


1 ounce white rum.
1 ounce Apry or other apricot brandy.
1 ounce Lillet.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.

Combine with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker; shake and strain.
Garnish with a cherry.

I’ve seen some drier variations that look worth trying too: try 2 ounces rum, 1/2 ounce each of Apry and Lillet, and 1/4 ounce lemon juice.

Erik tells us that this cocktail is miles better when substituting Cocchi Americano for the Lillet (as today’s Lillet is less flavorful and less bitter than the Kina Lillet that existed when this cocktail was created). Cocchi Americano is a wonderful quinquina (a fortified wine with quinine as a bittering agent) and I absolutely love it. Give it a try here if you can find some. He also suggests, since Cocchi is a bit sweet, to use a dry apricot brandy (such as Blume Marillien apricot eau-de-vie). Talk about making this drink POP … wow.