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Archive for February, 2010

Knickerbocker Special

Posted by Reese On February - 14 - 2010

This week I’m staying old school, Savoy style, but changing up the base spirit.  I’m switching gears over to rum and I’m going to be mixing up the Knickerbocker.  Well, more specifically, the Knickerbocker Special from the Savoy.  I include the differentiator because the standard Knickerbocker recipe is completely different, calling for dry and sweet vermouth and gin.  Basically a Martini with a new name.  And since I’ve already explored the Martini, more than once, I’ll be sticking to the rum variant exclusively.

Knickerbocker Special (Savoy via Underhill Lounge)
1 1/2 oz Rum
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Orange Juice
2 Dashes Curacao
1 Chunk of Pineapple
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4) Garnish with pineapple

The pineapple bit is  speculative on my part.  Erik suggests muddling it with the other ingredients before shaking and straining.  The Savoy doesn’t mention what to do with it.  I’ll play around and let you know what I find out.
As for the name, my first guess was that it was named after the half-pants of the same name.  Thankfully Dr. Cocktail has a better explanation in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.  “‘Father Knickerbocker’ was the allegorical patron saint of New York City and generations of native New Yorkers claimed kinship to him.”  That certainly makes a lot more sense.

On to the mixing!

Jockey Club Cocktail – A Bit Like Spiked Hawaiian Punch

Posted by Reese On February - 13 - 2010

I started the week with the classic Savoy recipe for the Jockey Club Cocktail and found it be mediocre at best.  The flavor of the creme de noyau was completely lost to the gin and bitters.  The lemon juice shined through, but only dimly.  Finally, there was nearly no sweetness at all.  It was okay, but definitely not one that I’ll be mixing for myself or others again.

Jockey Club Cocktail

Looking further I found that the current recipes changed the Savoy formula drastically.  Of this new breed I first mixed up the recipe from Difford’s Guide #8.

Jockey Club Cocktail (Difford's Guide #8)
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Amaretto
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Dash Orange Bitters

This is much better!  Fair level of sweetness, could be a touch more.  The bitters are a bit too light, though.  I think two dashes would serve this drink better.  From there, my search continued and I landed on the Joy of Mixology recipe.

Jockey Club Cocktail #2 (Joy of Mixology)
2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Amaretto
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
Angostura Bitters to Taste

You’ll note that for his recipe Regan has changed up the name.  He felt that his reformulation was sufficiently different from the original as to necessitate a different name.  While I agree in principal, I don’t think anyone will be drinking the Savoy version of this drink.  So, in that light, I think it would be safe to simply call it the Jockey Club Cocktail.  Another few interesting points.  First, Regan bumps up the amaretto and lemon juice to 3/4 oz.  I think this works well.  It increases the sweetness slightly but he also ups the sour to compensate.  Second, you’ll note that he’s stayed with amaretto rather than creme de noyau.  More on that in a bit.  Finally, Regan has dropped the orange bitters entirely.  I agree with this move as well.   With the other flavors being bold the orange flavor was completely lost in this drink.

As I mentioned, this recipe is a bit sweeter, but that additional sweetness truly is balanced well with the sourness.  As for the bitters, for my taste two dashes provided the perfect level of flavor.  Next, the gin.  For my first mix I used Tanqueray 10.  It was too light and its flavors were completely lost to the other ingredients.  Switching to regular Tanqueray solved that problem wonderfully.  Tanqueray has a bold enough flavor that it’s able to compete with the other ingredients but still not be overwhelming.  Finally, the amaretto and the source of the subtitle for this post.  I decided I wanted to mix up this recipe using creme de noyau instead of amaretto.  The resulting color was certainly more interesting.  The flavor, on the other hand, was not.  My tasting notes read “Tasty, but slightly off flavor.  Not sure if I like this one.”  Colton was over that night so I asked for his input.  His comment? “Tastes like someone spiked the Hawaiian Punch.”  And thinking about it, it truly does.  The net of it all?  Stick with amaretto, you’ll be much happier.

Jockey Club Cocktail (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Gin (Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Amaretto
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

This drink is a tasty one, at least with the later recipes.  I learned a good lesson from this drink though.  Just because a drink is an old classic doesn’t mean it’s going to be good.  Spam is also an old classic, after all.

Jockey Club Cocktail

Posted by Reese On February - 7 - 2010

I’m going back to my all time favorite spirit this week, gin. It’s been far too long since I’ve ventured down this path and it’s time I change that.  This week we’re heading back to the pages of the Savoy for an old recipe.  In flipping through the recipes, the Jockey Club Cocktail jumped out as a unique combination of interesting flavors.  Another unique twist in this recipe is that it appears, at first glance, quite dry.  Should be a good time.

Jockey Club Cocktail (Savoy)
1 1/2 oz Dry Gin
4 Dashes Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Creme de Noyau
1 Dash Orange Bitters
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Rusty Nail – Can I Just Have The Scotch?

Posted by Reese On February - 6 - 2010

When I drink scotch I drink it neat, maybe a tiny piece of ice if I’d like a bit of mellowing to the flavor.  With that, I came in to this week thinking that the Rusty Nail could improve upon straight scotch.  That turned out to not be the case at all, at least not for scotch that’s tasty on its own.  My scotch collection certainly isn’t as extensive as I’d like it to be, but it spans a fair range none-the-less.   So, I had visions of trying a lot of them in this drink.  My direction changed as I got started.

Rusty Nail

Thinking that this drink was likely most often mixed with a blended scotch I decided to expand my collection with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label.  Using the Joy of Mixology recipe I got started.  With this scotch the Rusty Nail is very lightly peaty and lightly smoky.  There is a nice, yet subtle, sweetness from the Drambuie.  No single flavor shines above the others which I would attribute to the skill of both the Johnnie Walker and Drambuie blenders.  Overall this is a good cocktail, but even after only one a thought that ran through my mind was that I think I’d simply prefer the scotch alone.

From there I decided I’d change things up and try some single malts.  First in the mixing glass was Ardmore, one of my favorite medium smoky scotches.  Makes a great deal of sense then that the resulting Rusty Nail is noticeably smokier which does a good job of offsetting the sweetness of the Drambuie.  While I prefer this mix over the Johnnie Walked, I’m still torn as to whether I’d simply prefer the scotch on its own.

Next up I pulled down my bottle of Macallan 12.  Subtler smoke here.  Still feeling like this is a waste of good single malt though.  The Drambuie if very nice and certainly doesn’t hurt the overall flavor profile but it does mask some of the subtler notes of the scotch.  After this mix I decided I wasn’t going to do any more experiments with single malt for this drink.  Simply wasn’t worth it.

Finally, I decided to wrap things up with another blend.  Specifically one I’ve used here before, The Famous Grouse.  This mix was very smooth.  Truly nothing took over the flavor profile.  After these experiments my inclination is to think that this drink is really intended to be made with a blended scotch.  While the drink with any scotch is no doubt good you lose what’s really special about a single malt, the subtle complexity of flavor.

As for the recipe itself I really like this ratio.  I tried dropping the scotch to 2 oz, thereby bumping up the Drambuie ratio.  The resulting drink was a bit too sweet for my tastes.  As with all cocktail recipes though I suggest you tweak it to your liking.

Super Bowl Prep

Posted by Reese On February - 4 - 2010

As I explained last year, I’m not really a football fan.  But, with the coming of Super Bowl XLIV I thought you might be looking for some suggestions on food and drinks.  Last year I offered some advice to lead you in the right direction.  Here are some quick links to last year’s posts to get you in the mood.



Of the options I’ve listed above my favorite drink choice is definitely the DIY Highball Bar.  It gives your guests a lot of drink options and let’s each person customize the drink to their liking.  As for food, I’d go for lasagna this year.  It’s simple, super tasty and just sounds really good right now.  Well, I hope this has given you some direction.  Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!