30/30, #16: the Saratoga Cocktail

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.

Saratoga Cocktail

  • 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.

10 Responses to 30/30, #16: the Saratoga Cocktail

  1. Frederic says:

    I thought about the Saratoga last night as we were drinking a gem from the Waldorf-Astoria barbook – the Chauncy. Equal parts tom gin, whiskey, sweet vermouth, and brandy with a dash of orange bitters.

  2. Matt Heinz says:

    I’m a big manhattan fan, and this is a great variation for a subtler taste. Thanks!

  3. sylvan says:

    Be sure to also try the rye/cognac julep in Imbibe! also. It’s listed as a ‘Prescription Julep’ and is, as advertised, quite tasty.

  4. Dave says:

    Even though this post clearly says “30/30″ at the top, it isn’t coming up in the queue when one clicks on the full 30/30 series.

    Would hate to see it disappear, as it’s a good drink (will perhaps rise to great when I score some Rittenhouse–for now had to settle for Wild Turkey.)

  5. Paul says:

    Frederic — I don’t think I’ve tried the Chauncy before; add another to the queue!

    Sylvan — Prescription Juleps are a favorite here; once I get my 106-proof VSOP, I’ll match that up against a heavy-hitter whiskey and report back on the results.

    Dave — oopsie, thanks for pointing that out. I’ve made the change. Glad you liked the drink.

  6. [...] Washington Liquor Control Board is gonna stock it? — I commenced to try out the Force 53 in a Saratoga and, on Erik Ellestad’s suggestion, a Morning Glory, and was almost in tears at the richness [...]

  7. They made this drink last night at SF Cocktail Week’s closing party. I’d never had one before. So good! This one they made with Yamazaki 12 whisky instead of rye.

  8. [...] strikes me as a kind of flavor balance between two old favorites, the Saratoga Cocktail (the rye/brandy/sweet vermouth one; there are other drinks with the same name) and the El [...]

  9. [...] cognac.  Cognac? Yup.  As is typical for me, I came across my first read of this drink exploring Paul’s site, in this case, his 30 in 30 experiment.  An interesting take on our little gem and there is a lot [...]

  10. [...] for a few notes on possible variations (and a similar transition to colder weather), or look at Paul Clarke’s write-up, which notes that Dale DeGroff has been making Sazeracs with a blend of cognac and rye for years. [...]

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