An Olympic cocktail

Eric Felten has a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal about the history of drinking and cocktails in the Olympics (I love that Frank Sinatra wanted to start an Olympic Drinking Team). There’s even a yummy-looking cocktail recipe, which I’ll post here; read it soon, as the article will go away in a few days.

Appropriately enough, there is an Olympic Cocktail that managed to find its way into old cocktail books. Equal parts brandy, orange curaçao and orange juice, sadly, it is an over-sweet monotone.

But there are others, including the drink devised by Nino Mastalioni, a hotel barman in Rome, who in 1960 tried to reflect in a glass the international character of the games. He combined one part each American rye whiskey, German kirsch, Russian vodka, London dry gin, along with Campari (to represent his native Italia). Nino was happy to customize his concoction — replacing the whiskey with tequila for his Mexican guests, or aquavit for the vodka if a Dane stepped up to the bar. But any way you try it, Mastalioni’s Elixir of Olympus is fiercely alcoholic and only marginally potable.

Far better is the Mount Olympus cocktail created by Wembley bartender Jock Nelson for London’s 1948 games. Equal parts Greek brandy, Lillet blanc and orange curaçao, Nelson bragged the drink was “guaranteed to give anyone enough zip to run a four-minute mile.” The original cocktail is too sweet and viscous for my taste, but with a little adjustment it’s possible to find a gymnast’s balance for the Mount Olympus. I boosted the proportion of brandy, replaced the generic curaçao with Grand Marnier and added a bit of fresh lime juice to keep the sweetness in check.

Mount Olympus

1-1/2 ounces Metaxa.
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier.
1/2 ounce Lillet blanc.
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice.

Shake with ice and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

We had one last night. Very lovely.

If any of y’all have an Olympic cocktail of your own, or are inspired to create one, please post it in the comments!