Launched at The Spirit World in late 2007, the Raiders event addresses cocktail ingredients that arenâ€™t in heavy use today, but deserve a closer look. In the words of Robert Hess, â€œThe objective of this exercise is to re-examine some of the slightly more obscure products which might be gathering dust on the shelves of bars across America (if not the world), and to see if our intrepid little band of explorers can uncover some forgotten gems of recipes which might breathe new life into those products.â€
Hereâ€™s how it works: Participants post drinks using a specified ingredient by the deadline, and the cocktails must come from a previously published source (which should be included in the post, though the drink doesnâ€™t have to be unique to that publication) — weâ€™re revisiting classics here, so hang onto your original creations for other events. And since weâ€™re trying to spread the good word, preference is given to drinks that use more common ingredients and are not too complex to prepare, so ideally youâ€™ll be able to order the drink in as large a number of bars as possible. The winning cocktail is selected by the host, and the blogger behind the winning cocktail becomes the host for the next round â€¦ and the circle continues, ad infinitum.
The first round was devoted to Strega, and the winning cocktail was contributed by Anita and Cameron at Marriedâ€¦With Dinner (as if they havenâ€™t won enough competitions recently). For the second round, which wrapped up in December, Anita and Cameron chose Benedictine as the theme; thanks to the boozy excellence of the Cocktail a la Louisiane, I wound up with the honor of helming the third round.
And here we are. Now that Iâ€™m pulling myself out of my post-holiday sluggishness, I remembered my duties as host and hereby announce that for the third round of Raiders of the Lost Cocktail, the ingredient is: apricot brandy.
Wha? Yes, apricot brandy (or, more accurately, apricot liqueur) â€“ a stroll through most any vintage cocktail manual will turn up a number of drinks that called for a touch of apricot, typically provided by a sweetened, apricot-flavored grape brandy that gives drinks a sweet, fruity touch. Less typical are drinks calling for a â€œtrueâ€ apricot brandy (aka eau de vie, or barack palinka), so for the sake of this exercise, letâ€™s stick with the sweet stuff.
I donâ€™t know which is the chicken and which the egg, but one correlate of apricot brandyâ€™s decline can be seen by its placement in the liquor store: notably, on the bottom shelf. But thanks to the recent appearance of the excellent Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot liqueur in bars and liquor stores across the country, along with elusive sightings of the much-storied Marie Brizard Apry (and much rarer Giffard Abricot du Rousillon), I think itâ€™s high time to re-examine what apricot brandy brings to mixology.
So here it is: come up with your drink and post a link to it in the comments section (donâ€™t forget to mention the publication where you found it) by February 15. Following that deadline Iâ€™ll work my way through the recipes before emerging several days later — looking much the worse for wear and smelling strongly of apricots — to announce a winner.
So start your shakers and get going â€“ letâ€™s see what a little ambition and a little apricot liqueur can do.