During my time in school, I wrote a ton of papers about all manner of topics. Some of the hardest to write were those where the topic was interesting, but there was very little source material to go from. However, in some cases, those were the most rewarding as well, where as other times I just winged it and hoped for the best. The Communist reminds me of the former.
In looking through my books the recipe I started with from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is the only recipe I ended up finding in my entire cocktail bookshelf. That gave me free rein to experiment as I saw fit. But first, let’s quickly discuss the original recipe so we’re on the same page.
Communist (Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)
1 oz Gin 1 oz Orange Juice 1/2 oz Cherry Brandy 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
This recipe produced a drink that was a bit overly sour for me. After some additional experimentation I decided this was a result of particularly sour lemons, but it’s something interesting to note none the less. As with any natural ingredient you’re going to get some variation in your citrus acidity. That said, I encourage all of you to see every cocktail recipe as a guide rather than set in stone; change as you see fit. The other main thing that was off in this cocktail for me was its size. While it’s true that classic cocktails tend to be much smaller than today’s drinks, this one is particularly tiny. So, on to my preferred recipe.
Communist (Cocktail Hacker)
1 1/2 oz Gin 1 1/4 oz Orange Juice 3/4 oz Cherry Brandy 1 oz Lemon Juice 2 Dashes Orange Bitters
First, and easiest to see, I bumped the overall size of the drink up to ~5 oz. Second, I didn’t bump the lemon juice as much as other ingredients. If your lemons are super sour you might even want to drop back to 3/4 oz. Finally, I added some orange bitters to the mix. These serve to really increase the depth and complexity of the cocktail while adding a slight bitter component.
When mixing this drink I’d definitely suggest going with a bold, juniper forward gin. With the strong citrus notes you need a bold gin; I used Tanqueray to good success. The flavor of the drink is, not surprising, rooted in citrus. Next you get the gin and finally the flavor of the cherry brandy rounds everything out. Per Dr. Cocktail’s suggestion, I used Cherry Heering for this drink and found it to be perfect. Anything drier wouldn’t add enough sweetness to the drink. So, if you’d like to try a cherry eau de vie in this make sure you also add about 1/4-1/2 oz of simple syrup to balance things out.
I will definitely be making this drink again and have added it to my mental list of drinks to suggest to people who swear they hate gin. The strong citrus flavors subdue even strong juniper gins and allow the flavors to be introduced gently. Very tasty and I’m quite glad it wasn’t completely lost to the sands of time.