“A Time-Tested Favorite from Venezuela”
So wrote Charles H. Baker, traveler, raconteur, and possibly the ultimate fan of exotic tippling.
Yesterday I posted the details from an e-mail exchange I recently had with New York bartender and writer St. John Frizell over at Blogging Tales of the Cocktail. That exchange came at a time when I’ve been in a bit of a lull between drink explorations. These periods are always kind of troubling for me: nothing sounds all that exciting, and even the old palate refreshers seem to have lost their allure.
As I’ve mentioned before, though, when these periods of libational ennui set in, one of the best cures I’ve found is a little time with the books of Mr. Baker. His drinks can be interesting variations on tried-and-trues, and sometimes they can be just plain odd, but on occasion you come across a recipe that has to be tried to be believed. I’ve had disappointments before, but with this most recent expedition in which I turned up the “Maracaibo Kay Francis Cocktail,” I was fortunate to come across something pretty pleasant.
Baker credits Señor F. Garcia Bode, “Master- of-Mahogany-&-Mix at Cafe Plaza, at West Boliver 13,” with creation of this drink. It is, at first glance, an odd one: Spanish brandy and Spanish anisette in equal parts, with another part of strong black tea. But, it’s one of those odd combinations that may just work, the tannins in the tea taking the sweet edge off the anisette, and the sharp anise note breathing some life into the brandy. I tried this with cognac in place of Fundador, based on the contents of my liquor cabinet, but I’m fortunate to have a bottle of Anis del Mono on hand; it has a bright crispness that I like in an anisette, plus it’s relatively cheap, so if you come across a bottle I recommend you lay in a supply. For tea, I just used a bag of PG Tips — I’m more of a coffee guy, and it was the only black tea I could find in the kitchen cabinet — and while it certainly did the trick, I may swing by the tea shop later to pick up something a little more adventurous.
Anyway, this is a rut-buster for sure. As Baker wrote, “Try this one when some well-traveled soul drops-in, to vary the old usual Cocktail routine.” Sound advice indeed.
Kay Francis Cocktail
- 1 oz Fundador brandy [or cognac]
- 1 oz Anis del Mono [or other decent anisette]
- 1 oz strong black tea
Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon or orange peel on top, then discard peel.