View Full Version : Commodore

11-11-2007, 20:48
Hipped by a friend when in New York lately I visited the Campbell Apartment, which is a bar set up in the former office of a transport executive from the mid-1900's. It is located in, and on the west side of, Grand Central Terminal. Charming locale and I was interested that the menu offers a number of vintage cocktails.

One, the Commodore, drew my attention in particular. It is a mix of bourbon, creme de cacao, lemon juice and grenadine. It was very well made, resulting in a whiskey-driven palate tempered by a sweet-sour note from the citrus and grenadine. The cocoa flavor was light but noticeable and blended well with the barrel notes of the bourbon - the house used Maker's Mark and I didn't demur.

A fine drink indeed which I'll try to duplicate at home.

By the way I finally found Ted Haigh's book on vintage spirits and cocktails mentioned in another thread recently. Excellent book for its accurate but easy going commentary, numerous, often intriguing recipes, and the reproductions of old ads and bottles - all very well done.


11-15-2007, 00:08
99 percent of mixed drinks made in 99 percent of all the bars and restaurants that make them are garbage.

But, oh, that 1 percent! :)

11-15-2007, 13:34
This bartender was excellent: like a good chef, he worked fast but expertly, always cleaning as he worked, yet still talking to customers, taking new orders, etc. He was using good recipes too, which helps.

Ted Haigh's book has been a revelation in terms of the fecundity of prewar cocktails and the associated culture. Post-war too, e.g., his notes on tiki cocktails are great and he gives citations where one can pursue interest in such exotica. There are a number of period whiskey bottles in his photos, e.g., a Crow bourbon, a straight rye from the Prohibition era, various brands from the 1940's, which clearly he has used in recreating period recipes.

I once read a book on 1930's dinners and other meals served at society functions in England. One of the themes was the relative complexity even of simple dishes, e.g., sandwiches were popular made with many ingredients finely minced. It was suggested these evolved in the days when the grand houses and families had lots of help, a situation which changed even for most of the well-off after World War II. For whatever reason, people had the taste then for complex, subtly flavoured foods. Today, bolder, stark flavours seem more the fashion. I wonder if some of the same reasoning can apply to cocktails, which relied on expert help and back-up to make them and also the wherewithal to buy the many kinds of specialised ingredients, not to mention glasses and shakers, which were expensive then. With the simplification of life after the war, maybe in this domain too the idea that less is more got the upper hand with the result that only a few, relatively straightforward cocktails survived. Or maybe there is another reason to explain why the old complex mixtures largely disappeared.