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20th Century Cocktail

Posted by Reese on 2009-05-31 @ 09:22pm

This week I’m focusing my efforts on another cocktail that was nearly lost to the annals of time, the 20th Century Cocktail.  Invented in 1939 by C.A. Tuck and first published in the Cafe Royal Bar Book published in the same year.  But don’t be confused, this cocktail wasn’t named after the century itself but rather the Twentieth Century Limited, a train that ran from Chicago to New York.  The train had a number of notable features that put it head and shoulders above it’s competitors of the day.

20th Century Express - Library of Congress

20th Century Express - Library of Congress

First, it could make the trip from NYC to Chicago in only 16 hours.  Second, it offered a barbershop and secretarial service and guests boarded and disembarked via a plush red carpet, hence the term “the red capet treatment.”  Third, the train was put in to service in the early 1900’s but received a fresh new look in 1938 when it was given a streamlined Art Deco look.  This change in look and the associated ad campaign are certainly what inspired this cocktail.

The drink was rediscovered by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh and I’ll be starting my exploration with the recipe found in his book Vintage Cocktails and Spirits.

20th Century Cocktail
1 1/2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Lillet Blonde
3/4 oz White Creme de Cacao
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
Lemon Twist (Garnish)
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4) Garnish with a lemon twist