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The Algonquin Cocktail – Nearly a Bust

Posted by Reese on 2009-12-05 @ 05:01pm

As the title hints this week was nearly a bust for me.  The first Algonquin I mixed up was the recipe from Vintage Cocktails and Spirits.  Since the recipe called for rye I naturally reached for my go-to, Rittenhouse Bonded.  However when I started sipping I was disappointed.  The drink was very rye heavy and not particularly tasty.  However, this drink has survived the test of time so I knew it had to be pretty good if done right.  So I pressed on.

Next I tried the recipe from Difford’s Guide #8 (2 oz Rye, 1 1/4 oz Dry Vermouth, 1 1/4 oz Pineapple Juice, 2 Dashes Peychaud’s).  The drink was a lot more balanced and not nearly as rye heavy.  I didn’t find that the bitters added much and since this was the only recipe I found that called for them I dropped them altogether going forward.  Having tried this one I knew I was on the right track.

Next on the docket was the recipe from Gary Regan’s Bartenders Bible (1 1/2 oz Blended Whiskey, 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth, 1 oz Pineapple Juice).  I decided to stay with the rye since that’s what everything else called for.  This drink was much sweeter than the others and while the vermouth was still their it was very light.  As I continued to sip this one I came to an interesting realization.  Rittenhouse is 100 proof and balanced this version fairly well.  Were I to use an 80 proof it would be much more muted.  Maybe, that’s what went wrong with the first recipe I tried?  It was intended for 80 proof and my 100 proof simply overpowered the other ingredients.

On that note I decided to mix it up again with an 80 proof rye (Templeton).  Wow!  A much more balanced cocktail where the rye doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.  While that’s all well and good I still prefer Rittenhouse for my everyday mixing, saving the pricier stuff for special occasions.  Since I knew a ratio that worked well with 80 proof I was able to extrapolate a recipe that works great with 100 proof Rittenhouse.  So, if your rye of choice is 80 proof go with the original recipe from Vintage Spirits and Cocktails (2 oz Rye, 1 oz Dry Vermouth, 1 oz Pineapple Juice).  If you, like me, enjoy Rittenhouse, try my modified recipe.

The Algonquin Cocktail

The Algonquin Cocktail (Cocktail Hacker)
2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1 1/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
2) Shake until well chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass

What’s my final verdict on this one? It’s pretty good. Not my favorite cocktail of all time, but I’d certainly be happy to drink one. The rye is definitely the star. The pineapple juice adds a subtle flavor but light sweetness is the key. Finally the vermouth adds complexity and rounds out the flavor profile. If you’re dying for a new rye cocktail this one is worth a go.

Happy Repeal Day to you all!

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