A new addition to my list of favorites. The recipe’s from William Grimes’ unspeakably excellent Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail, the reading of which is the best and quickest way I know of to gain a well-rounded education about the fine points of drinking over the past 200 or so years.
Police Gazette Cocktail
- 3 ounces whiskey [ed. note: Woohoo!]
- 2 dashes French vermouth
- 3 dashes simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters (Fee Bros. Old-Fashioned Aromatic Bitters lend a nice, spicy touch to this drink)
- 2 dashes curacao
- 2 dashes maraschino liqueur
Stir with ice & strain into cocktail glass; garnish with a cherry.
Grimes credits the drink to the New Police Gazette Bartender’s Guide from 1901 (in the book, he says the magazine ran stories about lurid crimes, along with bits on boxing and, of course, the finer points of saloons). This recipe was apparently submitted as part of a regular contest the gazette held for cocktail recipes.
I’ve had the book for years (Grimes’, that is), but didn’t sample this number until just this week. I’ve tried the drink a few ways–twice with Wild Turkey 101 proof bourbon, and once with Weller 12 year old bourbon. I love the Weller in general, but I think for this drink’s characteristics–the very slight touches of a lot of different ingredients, added to a large dose of one primary ingredient–a muscular whiskey like the higher proof Wild Turkey makes more sense. (Though, when you have three ounces of Wild Turkey in front of you, just barely touched with seasoning, you can almost hear it cracking its knuckles in the glass as it sizes you up.)
I’d like to try it with a rye whiskey next–given the 1901 birthdate, that’s probably how this drink was originally concocted–but the only high-proof rye available in Seattle is Wild Turkey, and I’m not a huge fan of that bottling (though their bourbon I love)–guess I have to hold out for a bottle of the bonded Rittenhouse, which apparently is showing up in various places around NYC. [ed. note: since the initial posting, I've made this several times with old, reliable Old Overholt--only 80 proof, but a nice friend to have in the liquor cabinet, nonetheless. Verdict: mmmmmmm. Lightly spicy; you can see this drink's handlebar mustache quivering with pleasure.]
The last two times I’ve made this drink (once each with Weller and Wild Turkey), I’ve sized back the whiskey to two or so ounces, both to let the other flavors have more of a say in the drink, and also to keep myself from being knocked over backwards by just one cocktail. Even with this reduction, the flavor of the whiskey is still very up-front, so I think this is a good cocktail to break out your decent stuff for. The other ingredients all kind of meld together in the flavor profile–there’s no strong funk of maraschino, for example–and work like accessories to the whiskey, like a flower in the bourbon’s buttonhole and a diamond ring on its pinky.