Ted Haigh questions the logic of naming this drink the Park Avenue in Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits. “Note, if you will, the tropical character, invoking Carmen Miranda strutting down a Palm Beach boulevard. As I say, the names of this and the Palm Beach Special preceding it, were obviously switched at birth.” Definitely on the mark. Although this drink holds a Gothamesque name, its flavor definitely is more reminiscent of the tropics. So, what is that flavor profile exactly? Complex, but still light and fruity. The pineapple is the dominant note in the aroma of the cocktail but isn’t as much the star in the flavor. In the flavor you’re first going to notice the flavors of the vermouth and hints of the gin coming through at the forefront. The pineapple and curacao round it all out really nicely.
Gin is the base spirit in this drink, and it’s important to pick the right one. I started, as I usually do, with Plymouth. I found the resulting cocktail to be very smooth, but lacking the level of gin in the flavor that I’d like. So, I decided to give a bolder gin a try next. Wanting to try a gin that’s more main stream and, quite frankly, a little less expensive, I decided to mix the next one with Gordon’s. Interestingly, I found that even with a bold gin the flavor didn’t come through as much as I expected. And, regarding this gin choice specifically, I found it a little funky. Not necessarily bad, but not quite what I’d like either. I also wanted to try another recipe I had found in the Difford’s Guide so I decided to continue the gin experimentation (ginsperimentation?) with that.
Park Avenue (Difford's Guide #8)
2 oz Gin 1 oz Pineapple Juice 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth 1/2 oz Curacao
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice 2) Shake until combined and well chilled 3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
I wanted to keep with the bold gin plan so I pulled Tanqueray off the shelf for the first mix. Since the vermouth is decreased in this recipe, I expected it to be more of a background flavor. It really isn’t at all, though. You get the herbal notes and with the increased curacao you get a bit more orange flavor as well. Through it all the Tanqueray stood up great. This is definitely my favorite of the two recipes.
Finally, since this drink has strong tropical flavors I decided to try a gin that has more of a citrus forward flavor profile while maintaining the juniper as well. The clear choice to me was Beefeater. It’s a nice mix of juniper and citrus and works great in this recipe. While not as bold as Tanqueray this gin is still stands up great to the other strong flavors. Through all the tastings this week, Beefeater rose to the top as my gin of choice for this drink.
The Park Avenue, while a bit oddly named, is quite tasty. It has topical flavors but uses vermouth and gin. Definitely not a combination you’d immediately think would work well, but it definitely does. If you’re a gin lover and looking for something a bit different give it a go. Or, if you have a gin hater, this might be a fun place to get them started. Use a bit lighter gin and the other flavors will carry the weight.