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Cocktail of the day: Oriental Cocktail

Two cocktails, actually. The first is something I probably should have noticed before; the second is a terrific variation. They’re both great.

In a recent issue of Ardent Spirits, Gary Regan brought up a nearly-forgotten classic that appeared in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, from the Savoy Hotel in the early 1930s. Wes tried it a couple of weeks ago and it’s his current favorite. I like it a lot myself, and I particularly like the variation. “We need more rye cocktails in the world!” he says, and I agree … and I’ll add that we need more Irish whiskey cocktails too.

The original recipe for this one called for proportions and then “the juice of half a lime”; given how the juice content of limes tends to vary, Gary modified the recipe to specific measurements, and it seems to work much better that way. As for the cocktail’s name … well, there’s a story. “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.”

I think people should be rewarded with cocktail recipes more often.

The Oriental Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces rye whiskey
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

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

Wes likes to drizzle a teaspoon or so of the cherry juice (or even better, some brandied cherry juice) down the inside of the glass so that it makes a little layer on the bottom. Very pretty, and you get a little burst of sweetness at the end.

One of Gary’s students at “Cocktails in the Country” came up with an ingenious variation. Make the exact same drink, except substitute Irish whiskey for the rye. The difference it makes is amazing, and in my opinion it’s an even more complex drink. When making this variation, the drink is called a James Joyce.

Cocktail of the day: The Vieux Carré

One of my favorite bars in New Orleans is the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel. There’s a piano bar in the back with comfy booths, and a faux-starlit sky on the ceiling — very nice atmosphere. My favorite spot in here is actually at the bar, which is built from parts of an actual old carousel (or “flying horses”, as we used to call them as kids in New Orleans) and the barstools revolve around the circular bar. Not to worry, it’s slow enough that you won’t get dizzy, unless you have way too much to drink.

As I think every good bar should, this bar has a signature cocktail. I always find it amusing that the last several times I went to the Carousel, the cocktail waitresses seem not to be familiar with the drink, but all the bartenders know how to make it, and one said that he gets at least a half-dozen orders for it every shift. It was invented in 1938 by the man who was then their head bartender, Mr. Walter Bergeron (11 years before this particular bar was built), and he named the drink for the French name for the French Quarter. In New Orleans you say “French Quarter” if you’re speaking English, but if you’re speaking French it’s not “le Quartier Français”, it’s called “le Vieux Carré” (the Old Square). In New Orleans we say “VOO ka-RAY.”


1 ounce rye whiskey.
1 ounce Cognac.
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
1 teaspoon Bénédictine D.O.M.
2 dashes Angostura bitters.
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters.

Half-fill a double Old Fashioned glass with ice, add ingredients
and stir to mix. Garnish with a stemless cherry.

It’s mighty, mighty good. If you can’t find Peychaud’s Bitters in your area, order some (click “Food,” then “Mixes”) — they’re cheap. If you’re serious about cocktails, your bar is not complete without them.

And while we’re at it, how ’bout a cocktail?

A tip from Wes and a little dig into a heretofore unnoticed DrinkBoy link revealed a “new” (to me, but undoubtedly old) cocktail that has been a favorite of mine for the last couple of weeks …

The Fancy-Free

2 ounces Bourbon whisky
1/2 ounce Maraschino liqueur (I use Luxardo)
1 – 2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 – 2 dashes orange bitters

Shake with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Yum.

Wes came across another old cocktail recipe recently, gave it a shake, and now he’s quite fond of it. Since neither of us like vermouth, we’ve reduced the amount the original recipe calls for (and at half of that, it gives the drink just enough tang without having a too-assertive vermouth flavor), but vermouth lovers may feel free to follow the original recipe. This drink was named after the Algonquin Hotel in New York.


2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce unsweetened pineapple juice

Same drill as above … shake, strain, chilled, cherry. Sip. Aaaah.

(Okay … after two drinks, now I’m ready for all this election crap to follow.)

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