View Full Version : Classic Cocktails and Lost Ingredients

10-19-2007, 19:41
I thought I'd post this link of an interesting article just published in today's SF paper...it talks about old cocktails and some of their "lost" ingredients that are hard to find these days. I bought some Falernum recently, and it makes me wish I'd bought another bottle:


10-20-2007, 04:31
Excellent article, thanks for posting that.

The preoccupations of these cocktails mixologists parallel our own which seek to understand the taste of historical whiskeys.

The idea to revive traditional distilling and aging methods parallels that of re-creating old liqueurs, bitters and other drinks.

A lot of the interest in classic cocktails is due to the various writers and web authors mentioned in the article including Gary Regan, Ted Haigh and Dale de Groff.

The impetus is the same one which motivates us here, which is to re-discover lost tastes, in effect take a time machine and go back to an earlier, seemingly simpler and more carefree time.

And indeed against all odds in the fast-moving ever changing world we live in, due to the way bourbon has been merchandised in some areas (e.g., in those small countless stores in San Francisco) and its fall-off in popularity for a while (thus leaving old inventory on shelves), some of the older bottles can still be located.

Also, you don't have to go back that far, even bottles put on the market 10 and 20 years ago can reveal tastes already consigned to history or pretty much (e.g., the taste of aged 1970's Pennsylvania bourbon, 1970's-80's ND bourbons, S-W-distilled bourbon, Glenmore Wathens, Cincinnati-bottled Overholt, etc.).

I think we share much with these other enthusiasts. Maybe one day we can meet some of them at a suitable venue (sounds like LeNell already has) and share ideas and tastes.


10-20-2007, 07:46
This article is inspiring. It appeared originally in Imbibe! magazine a couple of months back (by the way, that magazine is pretty terrific if you're into cocktails: it's where I got my homemade bitters recipe, and always has inspiring articles and photos). As soon as I read it, I started a batch of pimento dram (really good, especially with Applejack or a good rye whiskey). I also have a batch of the Amer Picon clone ready to strain and bottle.

Ted Haigh, who is quoted in the article, writes a column for Imbibe! about classic cocktails, hard-to-find or vanished ingredients, etc. He also has a book called "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails" that discusses these tastes that, as Gary says, have been relegated to history. And it's loaded with dusty bottle porn.

Thanks for posting the link. I'll save an electronic copy of the article so I can toss out that issue of the magazine.

10-20-2007, 08:25
Imbibe is excellent I agree and I like it because it covers a range of drinks, which fills a gap.

I think the retro thing is always with us, whether in food or drink, fashion of course, and other aspects of culture. It co-exists with the wish, equally laudatory, to create new and interesting tastes and fashions.

Innovation and respect for tradition need to work hand in hand...


10-20-2007, 08:27
Ted's book is a joy even if you aren't necessarily interested in trying to recreate the drinks. He is an art director by profession, so it's beautifully designed, but also very cleverly written. it's a great gift book.

10-20-2007, 08:48
Thanks for the article. In addition to nostalgia, I think the longing for adult drinks is driving this. I don't like sickly sweet things. Fuzzy navels and chocolate "martinis" (or anything called "martini" just because it is in stemware) just aren't very interesting.

10-20-2007, 09:39
I think we share much with these other enthusiasts. Maybe one day we can meet some of them at a suitable venue (sounds like LeNell already has) and share ideas and tastes.


Actually, one of the people in the article, Erik Ellestad, is a friend of mine. I'll have to bring him to a straightbourbon.com event in SF sometime. He's definitely a bourbon fan!

10-21-2007, 19:02
Speaking of pimento dram (one of the lost ingredients from the article), tonight I used my homemade batch for the first time in a cocktail. This started as a derivative of Chuck Taggart's Reveillon Cocktail, but evolved with help from the Vieux Carre:

1 oz. Rittenhouse BIB
1 oz. Laird's BIB apple brandy
1/4 oz. Benedictine
1/4 oz. Punt e Mes
1/4 oz. homemade pimento dram (allspice liqueur)
2 dashes homemade bitters
Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cracked black cardamom pod (cinnamon stick would work, too)

Sweet and after-dinner type drink at first, but the bitterness from the Punt e Mes and the spice of the pimento dram keep it from being cloying. Throw in the smoke from the Benedictine (accented by the cardamom pod) and you've got a very good cocktail.

BTW, if you haven't ever been to Gumbo Pages (http://www.gumbopages.com), Chuck Taggart's site, I recommend it. Lots of good stuff on cocktails, rye whiskey in particular, as well as Southern (and other) food and drink.

10-22-2007, 17:37
Hi... I'm a lurker here, so there isn't so far between bourbon and cocktails! I get as excited about the release of the new Buffalo Trace Antique Collection or one of robbyvirus' dusty discoveries as the next guy.

Just to be clear, Camper English's Chronicle article is not the same as Paul Clarke's from Imbibe, though, they do cover some similar ground.

Hope to meet some of you one day at a Whiskey gathering!


10-23-2007, 04:06

You're right. I just glanced through the article briefly before writing that. Last night I went through the article more carefully. There are significant differences in the way the two pieces are written and in content. Sorry about that, all.