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Leap Year Cocktail

According to Gary Regan in his book The Joy of Mixology, “This cocktail was created by Harry Craddock, for the Leap Year celebrations at the Savoy Hotel, London, on February 29th, 1928. It is said to have been responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail that has ever been mixed,” reports The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). Apparently the absurd quaint tradition of yore was that it was only proper for women to propose marriage to men in leap years, because … I don’t know. A bunch of men said so?

This recipe is adapted from Craddock’s original, but can certainly be enjoyed at any time of the year.” Or certainly today, 76 years to the day after Harry created it for us.

Leap Year Cocktail

2 ounces gin.
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier.
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth.
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1 lemon twist, for garnish.

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

And happy birthday to all you Leap Year babies!


Irish Whiskey Toddy

This one was strictly therapeutic, but fortunately it tasted really good too. It’s right out of the annals of Irish medicine, with one little touch added by meself. It didn’t exactly cure what ailed me, but it soothed the soul, spirit, nose and tummy.

Irish Whiskey Toddy

1-1/2 ounces Irish whiskey.
5 ounces extremely hot tea (Irish blend preferred).
1 tablespoon honey.
2 cloves.
1 cinnamon stick.

Prepare your tea and pot according to the standard method
(which you should already know by now), adding two cloves per
cup to the pot. Add the whiskey to the mug, then the honey
and cinnamon stick. When your tea is brewed (5 minute steep
in the pot is grand), add to the mugs and stir thoroughly,
leaving the cinnamon stick inside to steep.

Ehh, feck what I said earlier … it will cure what ails ya.

I feel better already.

The Bramble Cocktail

As much as we love drinking in Ireland, as much as we love the Guinness and the Murphy’s and the Beamish and the Smithwick’s by the pint; the Power’s, Jameson’s, Paddy, Bushmills, Tullamore Dew, Redbreast, Tyrconnell, Connemara and Midleton Very Rare by the glass; it’s a bit of a shame that Ireland is not much of a cocktail country.

We had heard that there were good cocktails to be had at the tony Clarence Hotel, one of the nicer hotels in Dublin city, which is now owned by the lads in U2. We ventured to the Octagon Bar (aptly named, as the big room and the bar are octagonal) and had a look at their cocktail menu.

It was pretty impressive, and that night was the very first time, in seven days in Ireland, that we heard the sound of a cocktail being shaken, that we even saw the presence of a cocktail shaker, in any pub or bar. (Actually, we had a cocktail last night at Tante Zoe’s, but we didn’t see or hear them made.) Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as we love pints and drams, but boy, were we jonesing for a cocktail.

They were high-priced cocktails, too; this was unsurprising, given the typical clientele of the Clarence. However, if the value of our currency weren’t so low, thanks to the current administration, they’d only be slightly expensive. We saw prices of €10-€15.50, but at the current exchange rates that made a drink run between $13 and $20. Glerp.

Our barman Seán (who’d worked as a barman in New York as well) recommended the Clarence Cosmopolitan (made with both Absolut Mandarin and Citron, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and a flamed orange peel), but we picked the following one from the menu. Unfortunately, we didn’t feel we could afford more than just one drink that night, but fortunately these were quite good.

The drink was invented by Dick Bradsell in London in the mid-1980s.

The Bramble

1-1/2 ounces gin.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1/2 ounce simple syrup.
3/4 ounce crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur).
Club soda.

In a cocktail shaker with cracked ice, combine the gin,
lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake and strain into an
8-ounce stemmed tulip glass, top with soda and float the
crème de mûre.

Pretty simple really … a gin fizz with a blackberry liqueur float. It’s always amazing, though, how the addition or substitution of one ingredient can transform a drink into a wholly wonderful other.

A Riding Lesson

This one came in from our friend Daniel Reichert — he found it while playing around with CocktailDB (something I highly recommend doing). None of us had heard of it, although he pointed out that it does appear in the wonderful Jones’ Complete Bar Guide (then again, that book is so big and full of thousands of tiny recipes that it’s easy to overlook something). Perhaps its name comes from its Kentucky-born “thoroughbred” spirit, but in any case it’s a very tasty twist on a Manhattan.

Riding Lesson Cocktail

1-3/4 ounces Bourbon whiskey.
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth.
1/4 ounce Bénédictine D.O.M. liqueur.
1 dash Angostura bitters.
Cherry garnish.

Stir (or shake) and strain; garnish with stemless cherry.

Although we have yet to try it this way, Dan suggests doubling the amount of Bénédictine for an even more distinctive taste.