This site is an homage to Dr. Cocktail’s Vintage Spirit’s and Forgotten Cocktails recipe book. My plan is to make every one of his recipes and talk about them, as well as adding other cocktails in a similar vein that I’ve found.
I used to be mainly a beer drinker. I travel a lot for my job and I’ve been able to experience the great variety of beer around the world. Plus it tends to have less alcohol content than cocktails and given that where I live in the southern United States I drive to the places that serve drinks, it was just safer to stick with beer.
Another reason I stayed away from cocktails was that what most people refered to as a “cocktail” is actually a specific type of cocktail called a “highball“. While I like highballs like a Gin and Tonic in the summertime, there wasn’t any subtlty or art to making them.
My love affair with cocktails was a perfect storm of a number of events.
First, in the South most houses have a space called a “formal living room”. This is a room for receiving guests, but in practice it turns out to be a large room with expensive furniture that is rarely used. I don’t like them. The first house we bought didn’t even have one, but the one we live in now does. For years it remained empty and we called it “the ballroom” as a joke.
Then one day my lovely bride found a wooden bar in a thrift store. This had a back bar with a large mirror, a front bar and a large wooden top that held glasses. It was awesome and we got it for a steal. So now we had a use for our “ballroom” and we called the bar the “the entertainment center”.
Turns out that having a bar in your house encourages people to give you wine and liquor as gifts. The bottles began to pile up.
Then some friends of mine in Florida introduced me to modern mixology cocktails via the restaurant bluezoo. These drinks were much more than a highball, some times requiring weeks of preparation. As I love to cook it was wonderful to combine the skills of preparing a meal with the wonderful combination of tastes that a good cocktail can provide. I began to collect cocktail recipes.
When I started talking about cocktails to my friends, it turns out a large number of them had Ted Haigh’s book, so I bought a copy. Since I have a lot of the ingredients already, I am hoping to get through it in a year or so. Despite having a bar in our home we don’t drink all that much, but it should be a fun journey.
I plan to rate all of the drinks on a five point scale:
- Ewww – what were they thinking
- Not really to my liking
- I’ll have two of those, please
In case you were wondering, the picture on the site is of the back bar, and the three face jars were made by Vadim Malkin. They are named Edgar Allan and Poe.
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There are a couple of recipes I see where you use Apricot Liqueur where the recipe originally calls for Apricot Brandy. Apricot Liqueur and Apricot Brandy are actually two different things with drastically different sugar-contents. The liqueur is a sweetened product, whereas apricot brandy is a dry eau-de-vie. One of the most accessible brands of Apricot Brandy is Blume Marillen, which is imported to the U.S. by Haus Alpenz (same importer as Cocchi, Dolin, Rothman and Winter, etc.). The screenshot of the recipe for the Hotel Nacional Special that you posted even makes the point to specify “dry apricot brandy.” It’s possible that Dr. Cocktail used liqueur because when he wrote the book the dry style brandy wasn’t readily available. Now that it is more readily available, you should consider trying these recipes again with proper Apricot Brandy, as it will greatly affect the florality and sugar-levels of these cocktails, in my opinion, for the better.