A few days ago, while covering the Diamondback, I mentioned the natural relationship that exists between the rich flavors of rye whiskey and apple brandy. Here’s another excellent drink in the same vein, except with a different partner for the whiskey: the Saratoga Cocktail.
Essentially a Manhattan that’s had half of the whiskey swapped out for cognac, which gives the drink a layer of posh lusciousness just beneath the whiskey’s spicy edge, the Saratoga is another booze-forward old timer dating back to at least the 1880s (and where would I be without Dave Wondrich’s Imbibe! to fill me in on all these little details?).
As with the Diamondback and most other rye-centric drinks I can think of, you’re very well served if you choose to use a potent 100-proof or higher rye such as the Rittenhouse bonded or the Wild Turkey 101. And while a fairly pedestrian mixing cognac will get you there, aim for as good of a VSOP as your wallet or conscience will allow. (And while most cognacs on the market fall well below the recommended whiskey’s level of alcoholic firepower, there’s a 106-proof “Force 53” VSOP from Louis Royer that should help level the playing field; I have a bottle on the way, and I’m curious to see how it plays out.) For a spirit-centric drink as this, the Carpano Antica vermouth is pretty much the best thing you can do.
Dale DeGroff has been recommending Sazeracs made with half rye / half cognac for years; for tonight, when I’m again with a hankering for something old-timey and booze-forward, the Saratoga is taking care of me extraordinarily well.
- 1 ounce rye whiskey
- 1 ounce cognac
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir well with cracked ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Twist a lemon peel over the drink and use as garnish.
This drink is part of 30/30, a series of 30 drinks in 30 days — or as much as I can keep up before collapsing in a weary, booze-addled heap.