The Island of Lost Drinks

Illustration by Mark DanceyWhen emissaries of the Weekly approached me to compile a list of the 12 most undeservedly forgotten cocktails, it mooted the question: Is it still possible to imbibe elegantly in this crassly electronic age? The answer is yes, for those moxied (and livered) enough to take the challenge. Most of these libations demand components not readily available at your corner Hooch 'N' Go, but the reward is well-worth the pursuit. I stress that these recipes are only for those SERIOUS about their alcoholism, those who recognize it as Art and the proper calling of a gentleman, as did Churchill, Waugh and W.C. Fields. We are surrounded on all sides by beigist degenerates; damn-fool jackanapes; and plain lazy, ill-attired slobs, some of whom may even thumb through this fishwrap. If you only go to bars to effuse your oleaginous residue on the opposite sex, quit reading right now; we don't want your kind in this article. If you're not capable of putting two ingredients together on your own (i.e., not willing to put in the effort necessary to get drunk right), then fuck you. Herewith, then, my picks for the Top 12 Lost Cocktails.

1. ASTORIA
2-3 oz. gin
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1-2 dashes orange bitters
Shake with crushed ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange or lemon twist.

First served at the Waldorf-Astoria bar in 1897, this is a variation on the martini (as were most cocktails in that golden, departed age) that achieves snob value through the addition of the now-rare orange bitters. In better times an ingredient of many preferred cocktails, the bitters grant the Astoria a cool, tart finish entirely unlike and superior to whatever ghastly concoction of well vodka and neon-hued liqueur presumes to call itself a "fruit-flavored martini" at your neighborhood ass-trawlery. It is curious to me that anyone would have the gall to label some frightful admixture of stevedore-grade tequila, Kahlua and Midori a martini, but it is done. However, were I to administer sound drubbings to the deserving sundry, I should have no time to drink.

The dearth of easily available orange bitters had me nigh to concocting my own through sheer desperation (there's a recipe floating about somewhere on the Internet that involves Madeira oranges, grain alcohol, a mortar and pestle, and entirely too much time and effort for a professional sot to expend), but my savior appeared in the stalwart form of Rochester, New York's own Fee Brothers, possibly the last manufacturer and purveyor of the bitters left anywhere (see contact info below).

Try also the alternate Opera: 2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. Dubonnet Blanc, 1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur, and a dash of orange bitters.

Music: Combustible Edison,Four Rooms soundtrack. 2. AVIATION
1 1/2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
Shake with crushed ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry and/or lemon twist.
Maraschino liqueur is emphatically NOT the syrup from the bottom of a jar of cherries. Like orange bitters, it's a key ingredient in many Lost Cocktails, a middling-rare liqueur originating in the darkest Balkans. The Italian Stock brand is easiest to find and adequate, while the Croatian Maraska is superior (and higher-proof!). Fresh-squeezed lemon juice is essential in this as in all other citrus-based drinks. A correctly poured Aviation has nigh-magical properties akin to the levitation of a Fakir. The first will make you most charming and talkative; two will put you in the mood for dancing; three will make you the last to leave the party and give you trouble sleeping; more will have you flying about the room like Baron Harkonnen on a crack bender. Music: one Aviation, 101 Strings,101 Strings Play Songs of the Jet Set; two Aviations, the Boss Martians,The Jetaway Sounds of the Boss Martians; three Aviations, Euro Boys,Jet Age; four Aviations, Guitar Wolf,Jet Generation. 3. BULLSHOT
4-8 oz. beef bouillon (1-2 cubes)
1 1/2 oz. vodka
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 glop steak sauce (A-1 or equivalent)
dash Angostura bitters
dash lemon juice
dash hot sauce (Tabasco or equivalent)
celery salt
pepper
Pour boiling water over bouillon cubes into vessel of choice (I use a humble coffee mug). Add other ingredients and stir.
Some call this a hangover cure. I call it a meal. Next best thing to drinking a steak. Don't overdo the lemon juice; a tiny splash—less than a quarter of an ounce—gives the drink a deliciously acerbic edge, but more than that, it will make this cocktail taste like stomach acid. The Bullshot hails from (where else?) Detroit, where it mutated into its present form under the ministrations of an insane Mexican expatriate bartender. Strangely, quality bouillon is a waste in this one; Herb-Ox doesn't turn out nearly as well as the two-for-99-cents generic kind that you have to hit with a ball-peen hammer to pulverize. A variation has the consommé cold; to my mind, this is inferior, particularly for get-up-and-go in the morning, but have it your way if you must. A real man will use three bouillon cubes to eight ounces of hot water. Sodium is your god. Music: Jack O'Fire,Beware the Souless Cool. 4. CAESAR
1 1/2 oz. Vodka
4 oz. Mott's Clamato™ juice—accept no substitutes
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
glob chilled prepared horseradish
pepper
celery salt
Coat rim of chilled pint glass with celery salt. Shake other ingredients with crushed ice; strain or pour with ice into glass. Garnish with celery stalk and/or lemon wheel if you're feeling frivolous.
Canada does some things right. Incarceration for hate speech is not one of them, but the Caesar is. So ubiquitous is this fine libation in the land of maple leaves, lumberjacks and David Cronenberg that our spies north of the line have sighted gallon jugs of Clamato behind the bar at Toronto's better punk dives. It's the perfect 2 p.m. breakfast complement to gray, rubbery Brown-N-Serve links; it also goes well with seafood linguine. If the deliciously nautical tang of clam repels you, then get lost, hoser. May we learn from our septentrional brethren's drinking habits, and they from our liberal concealed-weapon laws. The acutely minded amongst you (damned few, I'll wager) may have noticed that the only vodka drinks on this list are overwhelmingly flavored by beef, tomato and bivalve. That is because vodka is best suited to drinks where you're not going to notice the spirit anyway. Face facts: persons of taste prefer gin. Music: Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians,Take It Easy—and before you sneer, hipster, consider that Guy was national speedboat-racing champion from 1946 to '49 and altogether more man than you'll ever be. 5. CHARTREUSE COCKTAIL
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. green Chartreuse
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
Shake with crushed ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange squeeze.
I find very few bourbon cocktails palatable. The rustic frontier spirit lacks the miscibility of urbane gin, and blending an already sweet whiskey with sweeter ingredients is the recipe for a guaranteed gagfest. There is one truly excellent one, though, and this is it: the herbal accents in the Chartreuse help to neutralize the whiskey's sweetness without eliminating it altogether, and the result is a layered and complex flavor. Pricey bourbons are best sipped straight, not mixed, so go with a good medium- to medium-high-quality brand, sharp rather than smoky (Beam is adequate; Maker's is ideal). If you like the taste of Chartreuse, try the alternate Bitter: 1 1/2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. green Chartreuse, 1/2 oz. lemon juice, dash Pernod. Music: Friends of Dean Martinez,A Place in the Sun. 6. NICKY FINN
1 oz. Brandy
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. lemon juice
dash Pernod
Shake with crushed ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass, wine goblet or champagne saucer. Garnish with maraschino cherry and/or lemon twist.
Remembering Dr. Johnson's dictum—"Claret is for boys, port for Men, but he who aspires to be a hero drinks brandy"—I was desperate to include at least one brandy-based cocktail in the lineup but had a hard time doing so, mainly because most of them aren't very good. My original candidate was the Classic Cocktail, but it wasn't as quality as I remembered it from a few years previous, failing to live up to its presumptuous sobriquet (I hope you appreciate the amount of research I did for this). I ultimately went with the Finn, which should satisfy those of you who desire a more hard-boiled lifestyle without going so far as to put eggs in your drink; just make sure the bartender hears you correctly. Music: Henry Mancini,Gunn . . . Number One!!! soundtrack. 7. GALLIANO DAIQUIRI
1 1/2 oz. Mount Gay Refined Eclipse Barbados rum
1 1/2 oz. Galliano
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. powdered sugar
Purée in blender with crushed ice. Pour into chilled cocktail or margarita glass.
Most rum cocktails are just riffs on the basic daiquiri formula, one so forgiving that it easily lends itself to experimentation. Sometimes a great cocktail recipe is perfected early and handed down over generations, as with the martini; other times, it is the product of a time, a place and a Great Man, as with the Hemingway Daiquiri; and still other times, it comes in the little pamphlet you get in a boxed 375 milliliters of Galliano that has been gathering dust on a back top shelf of New Haven, Connecticut's Liquor World since the late '70s. Like Chartreuse, Galliano is an herbal liqueur in a pretty bottle that can often be seen sadly accumulating disuse on the racks of wannabe reputable bars; reverse the trend. Not all will appreciate its licorice-infused flavor, but for those who do, the frosty yellow slurry of a freshly blended Galliano Daiquiri can propel you from a gritty desert afternoon into Liquor Elysium. Music: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass,The Lonely Bull. 8. PEGU
1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake with crushed ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime twist.
Pegu was the ancient name of the river delta kingdom today listed on maps as Myanmar, as well as the town and the club therein where this drink was the top draw from the 1920s through the '40s. George Orwell and OSS men may or may not have guzzled them on their furloughs along the Irawaddy, but elegant in its simplicity and classic in its formula—something of a cross between the refreshing bite of a pink gin and the lazy glow of a daiquiri—and with its unique light-orange hue evocative of a lowering sun, the Pegu is ideal for late-afternoon and pre-prandial drinking. With Burma currently under the iron heel of the SLORC regime, one might do for a toast to the Karen rebels; two or three will have you plotting coups in Rangoon. Music: Tipsy,Trip Tease. 9. PERIODISTA
1 1/2 oz. light rum
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. Cointreau
1/4 oz. apricot brandy
1/4 oz. simple syrup
Shake with crushed ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Another modified daiquiri; another mystery leaving us free to invent an origin. Its point of nascence is most likely to be California in the early 1950s, when apricot brandy flowed freely in the gutters of Hollywood, but one likes to think that a grizzled foreign correspondent covering some seething Latin American hellhole might prefer it to the customary pint of Scotch stashed at the back of his camera case—if he had the choice. Stick your press pass in the band of your fedora, get the wires humming with news of Castro moving on Havana from the Orient, and get to dook-dook-dooking. The Periodista may or may not give you the facility with badinage of Grant and Russell in His Girl Friday, but it is undeniably a lovely yellow—the color of journalism. Simple syrup is, simply, sugar syrup. It's available at better liquor stockists but is easy enough to manufacture yourself by adding granulated sugar to boiling water until you reach the saturation point—not THAT saturation point, you sot. Music: Los Zafiros,Bossa Cubana. 10. RAMOS GIN FIZZ
1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. lemon juice
3-4 drops orange-flower water
1 tsp. simple syrup
2 oz. cream or half and half
1 egg white
Flash blend with scoop of crushed ice; pour into chilled wine goblet and top with soda water. Garnish with a small flower blossom.
Cited by Lizbeth Scott as the antidote to terminal ennui in 1947's Dead Reckoning, the Ramos does the trick when you crave protein but feel a bit too prissy to go through with the classic beer-and-eggs routine of fondly missed Real Man Darby Crash. There's nothing like raw chicken ovum and carbonation to perk up a beverage in grand style. Orange-flower water is available at most health-food stores or Internet cookery distributors. Music: Impala,Teenage Tupelo soundtrack. 11. ROYAL HAWAIIAN
1 1/2 oz. gin
1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. orgeat syrup
Shake with crushed ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry.
This cocktail is the obligatory doff of my pedigreed Egyptian fez to the Tiki Nation or whatever the kids are calling it nowadays. It warrants inclusion here not only due to its crowd-pleasing properties but also its status as that rare avis of paradise, a tropical cocktail based on gin rather than rum. I have no idea whether you can get one at Laguna Beach's Royal Hawaiian or not (Beachbum Berry says it originated not there, but at Honolulu's Moana Hotel circa 1948). Last time I stopped in, they served up a four-star Mai Tai, but the paradigmatic ambiance was marred by TVs showing football (dreadful!) and a glut of hipsters on Internet dates (egregious!). Who goes to a classic tiki bar to drink Rolling Rock? And more to the point, why aren't they 86ed with extreme prejudice by Ui-Tor the 300-pound, scar-tattooed Maori bouncer? Kill them all, I say. Orgeat, as essential ingredient in many tropicals, is an almond-flavored sugar syrup available from (most notably) the renowned Trader Vic's. Music: The Tiki Tones,Idol Pleasures. 12. SAZERAC
2 oz. straight rye whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
splash Herbsaint
Coat inside of chilled old fashioned glass with Herbsaint. Shake rye and bitters with crushed ice; strain into glass.
Like the Ramos, the Sazerac is one of the Big Easy's more endearing extrusions, but its provenance interests me less than its composition—basically herbal accents layered over a potent dose of rye. Forget your blended vat whiskies; you want the kind Ray Milland stashed in his toilet tank in The Lost Weekend. Honest-to-Jehosephat straight rye, once the American whiskey of preference, is sadly seen less and less on shelves these days, but this drink brings out a sharp, quality rye's best attributes. I recommend Van Winkle 12-Year, Family Reserve, or Old Portrero, if you can get it. Old Overholt and Beam Yellow Label are adequate but nothing more. Basically what I am telling you to do is drink good rye whiskey. It'll make a man out of you in a way star-shaped ice cubes never will. Other pseudo-absinthe anisette liqueurs like Pernod or Absente will do as substitutes, but for authenticity and punch, there's no beating the proofier (90) Herbsaint, distilled and bottled in New Orleans. Try the alternate Pick-Up: 2 oz. rye, 1/2 oz. Fernet Branca, 3 dashes Pernod, and a lemon slice. Music: Lee Hazlewood,13. Recommended Purveyors
Da Vinci Gourmet, 7224 First Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98108; www.davincigourmet.com. Probably the only place to get Falernum; they also make a damn fine grenadine with real pomegranate essence. Fee Bros., 453 Portland Ave., Rochester, NY 14605, 1 (800) 961-FEES (website coming soon!—they promise). For orange bitters (even peach and mint bitters and other such bizzareties) and some unique cordial syrups. Trader Vic's, P.O. Box 8603, Emeryville, CA 94662, 1-877-7-MAI-TAI; www.tradervics.com. Orgeat syrup and other necessaries, plus things like Ko-Ko Kreme, which just make your life a whole lot easier.
 
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