Skip to content
GET DISCOUNTS WITH VBP REWARDS
GET DISCOUNTS WITH VBP REWARDS
A Gin Cocktail Odyssey, Act II: You Only Live Twice

A Gin Cocktail Odyssey, Act II: You Only Live Twice


Last week we talked about classic gin cocktails: drinks that have stood the test of time, and although some may have had a tough time getting through the years unscathed, drinks that never left us. Cocktails that have been consistently ordered at cocktail joints in some form since they were first served long ago. That’s a classic. But what about all those old cocktails that seemingly went the way of the Dodo? What are those? Well, we’re simply calling them Vintage cocktails, and luckily tons of them have been rediscovered by curious bartenders, thirsty historians, and scholarly cocktail drinkers of all stripes. Once they are rediscovered, it’s up to this drinking population to decide if they are hidden gems that just need a little polishing, or if they are better left to the sands of time (There are certainly pages and pages full of awful drinks in some of those old Pre-Prohibition cocktail manuals!). Prohibition was a big factor in temporarily expunging these drinks from the collective drinking consciousness, but you can’t keep a good drink down forever. Here’s to the Lazaruses of the cocktail world.


Martinez


The Martinez is most often referred to as a predecessor to the Martini, and while it certainly can be viewed that way, the lineage is in no way direct, and in terms of flavor, it has more in common with the Manhattan than the modern Dry Martini. The first printed recipe appeared in 1884, but the origin is unclear, with some sources saying it was originally served in Martinez, California, and others claiming it was first served by legendary New York barman Jerry Thomas for a patron headed for Martinez. Either way, the key to a historically accurate version is Old Tom Gin, an old, sweetened style of Gin that is called for in many 19th century cocktails. In concert with sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and Aromatic bitters, one can see the foreshadowing of Martinis to come, certainly, but it really plays more like a sweet Gin Manhattan.

Martinez

2 oz Old Tom Gin (Ransom)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Casa Mariol)
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters 

Combine ingredients in mixing glass and stir with plenty of ice. Strain and serve in chilled cocktail glass, garnished with a lemon twist.


Last Word


This prohibition era cocktail has become such a popular drink with modern bartenders, riffed upon endlessly, that many assume it has always been popular, a true classic. It is old, yes, first served in the 20’s at the speakeasy of the Detroit Athletic Club, but it disappeared completely by midcentury and wasn’t revived until the cocktail renaissance of the last fifteen years, when it was rediscovered and served by one Murray Stenson of Seattle’s Zig Zag Cafe. One of those rare and beloved drinks that truly works in an equal parts format, it’s easy to see why every bartender has their own favorite riff or two on it.

Last Word

3/4 oz Gin (Junipero)
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.

A cocktail so integral to any home bar, we made a kit for it here.


Pegu Club

I’m not sure if you know this, but western society wasn’t always perfect like it is now. Back in the day, Great Britain used to have something of an Empire to its name, gotten by wandering the globe and colonizing already inhabited lands. Man, good thing we don’t do anything like that anymore. This was exhausting work, no doubt, and being Englishmen, the colonizers set up civilized clubs for themselves to unwind with other men of like stock, away from the local communities. Of course this involved drinking, of course that drinking involved gin, and of course that gin drinking involved proprietary cocktails at just about every club. This one, one of the more famous nowadays thanks in part to a New York City bar named for it, came from the Pegu Club in Rangoon (now known as Yangon), Burma (now known as Myanmar). One can easily imagine some well chuffed gents, pith helmets tucked under their arm, sipping on this dry but refreshing libation to end a day’s work of light pillaging. But honestly, politics aside, it’s really nice having a few of these after a long one.

Pegu Club

2 oz London Dry Gin (Hayman's)
3/4 oz Dry Curaçao
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
2 dashes Orange Bitters

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.



Bee’s Knees

A kind of softer, rounder version of the Gin Sour than the Gimlet is, the whimsically named Bee’s Knees first turned up during Prohibition, when many spirits were so rough and unrefined they needed a good deal of masking with syrups and juices to be truly palatable. This drink achieves that simply and beautifully, replacing the Gimlet’s lime juice with softer lemon, and it’s simple syrup with underutilized honey syrup (two parts honey and one part water.) A great simple recipe to pop out for the impending summer and its inevitable demand for a sour template cocktail.

Bee’s Knees

2 oz Gin (Barr Hill)
3/4 oz Honey Syrup (Caledonia Spirits Raw Honey - made into a syrup*)
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
*Honey Syrup - In a small sauce pan hear equal parts honey and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Remove from heat once all honey is dissolved. Cool completely before use.

Another simple and sure-hit cocktail we just had to make a kit for. Learn more about it here.


Bijou

The Bijou came of age with the Manhattan and the Martini in New York City, and at one point apparently almost rivaled those two legendary cocktail stars in popularity. It’s also one of the first drinks to prominently feature the perennial, monastic French favorite of today’s cocktail crowd, Chartreuse. Prohibition of course wiped it from the face of the drinking scene, but not before it was recorded in a handful of important early 20th century drinking tomes, which allowed the Chartreuse sniffing bartenders of the modern cocktail renaissance to easily rediscover it and restore it (almost) to its former glory.

French for jewel, the drink is so named because of the jewel tones of its components: Diamond (Gin), Emerald (Chartreuse), and Ruby (Sweet Vermouth). While the original calls for equal parts, a slightly altered and more balanced ratio is often employed today. Likewise, today the drink is almost always garnished with a cherry, while the original recipe gave the option of an olive garnish as well, which seems very odd indeed.

Bijou

1 oz Gin (Bobby's)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Lo-Fi)
3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.

See more about this ever-green cocktail kit here.

Want to learn more?
- More about Gin cocktails.
- More about Gin.
- More about vermouth.

Previous article The Empress, The Monkey, The Elephant and The Tiger: An Enchanted Cult Gin Quartet
Next article A Gin Cocktail Odyssey, Act I: The Classics

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields