Happy Cocktail Bicentennial! Well, not quite — only the 200th anniversary of the first mention of the “cock tail” in print, in The Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, N.Y.; we suspect the cocktail was around for a fair bit longer.
“Cock tail, then, is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion,” went this inaugural mention. “It is said also, to be of great use to a Democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.” A snarky birth, to be sure, but hallelujah for it.
And because we really, really need a drink, here’s Dave Wondrich’s version of a classic, “sucked down in vast numbers by the dudes, swells and sports of [New York City] from around 1800 to the late 1880s.”
The Holland Gin Cocktail
Improved by and adapted from David Wondrich
2 ounces genever, a.k.a. “Holland gin”.
1/2 teaspoon Maraschino liqueur.
1 scant teaspoon simple syrup.
1 dash absinthe, or substitutes like Pernod or Herbsaint.
2 dashes Angostura bitters.
1 thinly cut lemon twist.
Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well (or stir) and strain into a chilled martini glass. Twist the swatch of lemon peel over the top, rub it around the rim of the glass, and drop it in.
Mr. Wondrich recommends a richer-tasting simple syrup made by dissolving two parts Demerara sugar, available in specialty shops, in one part boiling water.
The best genever readily available to us in the U.S. is Bols Genever, but Boomsma is also a good brand.