If I’m still swooning over David Wondrich’s new book, Imbibe!, it’s only partly because it’s a damn fine read. In addition to that, though, it has plenty of recipes that have had me breaking out the shaker over the last couple of weeks, often with very good luck.
The Prince of Wales’ Cocktail grabbed my attention right away. Part of the reason was because the illustration accompanying it is from an old catalog (I assume) detailing several types of champagne taps, which could be screwed through the cork of a champagne bottle and used to dispense the bubbly as needed. [On a side note — why the hell can’t we get stuff like that nowadays? Or if we can, where is it — I sure haven’t seen it.] As Wondrich writes, champagne was being splashed into every drink in sight back in the 1880s; this drink, which he sources from Private Life of King Edward VII, from 1901, is one of the success stories.
But the real appeal was the mix of flavors this drink promises, from the spicy zip of the rye to the bright fruitiness of fresh pineapple to the crisp effervescence of the champagne (I suppose that’s a sensation rather than a flavor, but you get my drift). It’s a decadent recipe to read, and the drink is obviously the work of someone who takes their refreshment very seriously, and has plenty of time and resources to do so. A prince, in other words.
Prince of Wales’ Cocktail (adapted from Imbibe!, by David Wondrich)
- 1 1/2 ounce rye whiskey
- 1/4 teaspoon maraschino
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 square of pineapple
- 1 ounce chilled champagne
Add sugar and bitters to a mixing glass and dissolve in a splash of water (or use simple syrup). Add rye, maraschino and pineapple chunk, pile in a bunch of ice and shake hard to crush the pineapple. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass — I think this one fairly cries out for a coupe — add champagne, and twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink.
Shazam, is that tasty. I’ve used both the bonded Rittenhouse and Michter’s in this drink with good effect, and a, um, affordable cava that didn’t seem to do it any harm. Wondrich writes that you can use a piece of canned pineapple in lieu of fresh (just be sure to shake off the syrup first). I used a couple of squares of frozen pineapple from Trader Joe’s; there’s no sugar added, and when thawed the fruit has a better texture, flavor and consistency than the canned stuff, so I’d suggest that as a good alternative to hacking up a fresh one or breaking into a can, if you have the option.