The Monkey Gland

monkey testesI had always assumed the Monkey Gland to be a cocktail of a certain type — you know, the “Long, Slow, Fuzzy, Comfortable Screw Against the Wall,” “Screaming Blue Orgasm” and “Kamanawanalei’a” kind of long drinks, whose raison d’être is to provide flirtatious bar-goers a bit of eyebrow-arching titillation when placing an order. Not really something one wants to drink, but something which circumstances (wisely or otherwise) suggest would be The Right Move. I’m pleased to report that this is not the case.

1 1/2 oz. London dry gin
1 1/2 oz. orange juice
1 tsp. grenadine
1/2 tsp. pastis

Shake with cracked ice and strain.

The Monkey Gland is not the product of a late 70′s fraternal organization’s party manual, but is an honest-to-god pedigreed tipple. Regan cites it as having first appeared in Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, but its name hearkens to a practice begun a decade earlier, when, in 1920, Dr. Serge Voronoff began implanting slivers of freshly-vivisected monkey testicle into the scrota of elderly Frenchmen. Voronoff, who had studied the physiology of Middle-Eastern eunuchs, was convinced that testosterone was the key to a long and healthy life, and promoted his xenotransplantion procedure as a $5,000 fountain of youth. The public’s interest was piqued, and a drink was born. The Monkey Gland is the spiritual progenitor of today’s Liquid Viagra — wholly different concoctions, but each co-opting the name of a contemporary virility treatment to suggest a stiffening drink.I’ve not had a Liquid Viagra, but I suspect that the chief difference between it and the Monkey Gland is that the latter is actually palatable. Ratios for the Monkey Gland vary widely, but the ingredients remain largely the same (Benedictine in lieu of pastis is a common variant). Haigh calls for full teaspoon of pastis, which I find a bit heavy, so here I have reduced it to 1/2 tsp, but otherwise employ Doc’s ratios. 1/2 tsp. is still enough to make its presence felt, but those who favor licorice may wish to double-up.

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9 Responses to “The Monkey Gland”

  1. Just you might appreciate this 1923 mention of the Monkey Gland, especially the mention of its inventor “Frank” (aka Frank Meier):

    The Washington Post – Washington, D.C., Apr 29, 1923:

    “Preparing for a busy tourist season, Frank, the noted concocter behind the bar of the Ritz, has devised a new series of powerful cocktails, the favorite of which is known as the “monkey gland”, or , as it is popularly called, the “McCormick.”

    Like Frank’s “poixxito quinte” [?] gloomer raiser, the monkey gland requires absinthe to be perfect, but its amateurs have found anise a substitute with a sufficient kick.

    For the benefit of friends over in America who have not exhausted their cellars, here is the recipe: half and half gin and orange juice, a dash of absinthe, and a dash of raspberry or other sweet juice. Mix well with ice and serve only with a doctor handy. Inside half an hour the other day Frank purveyed forty of these, to the exclusion of Manhattans and Martinis.”

  2. c says:

    Thanks, George! A lovely bit of archival extraction, that. Now, of course, you make me curious about the “poixxito quinte,” but as far as Google’s concerned, your comment is the only place it appears on the web :(

    Thanks, too, for your URL. I’d missed the advent of the Webtender Wiki.

  3. The quinte means “fifth” in French; however, due to the bad printing of the old newspaper I was reading I am uncertain as to the word I transcribed as “poixxito”. It really was bad printing, though I did my bestest!-)

    It could have been “soixante-quinte”, meaning 75th. And it could have referred to a French 75 cocktail. Looks like a question for the boys over on the Drinkboy forum.

  4. Well after checking the internet, it seems that the French 75 field gun (after which the cocktail was named) was also referred to as a “soixante-quinte”. Now theres a coincidence.

  5. c says:

    If we substitute “French 75″ for “poixxito quinte,” we have:

    Like Frank’s French 75 gloomer raiser, the monkey gland requires absinthe to be perfect…

    Which is curious, since none of these recipes, nor this one call for absinthe in a ’75. Definitely merits further exploration.

  6. Well the discussion is flowing on Egullet:

    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=96261

    The Frank Meier recipe in question, was as follows:

    The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, by Frank Meier, 1933

    Seventy Five (“75″)

    In shaker: a teaspoon of Anis “Pernod fils”, the juice of one-quarter lemon, one-half glass of Gin; shake well, strain into small wineglass, fill with Champagne and serve.

  7. c says:

    Zounds. eGullet has the answers. Saves me from paying the $3.95 for the article from the Post’s archives.

    So, it’s the 75 Cocktail we’re talking about, something of a precursor to what we know as the French 75… no grenadine/simple sugar, and no Calvados, but a teaspoon of absinthe. Excellent sidebar!

  8. [...] The Mystery of the Monkey Gland Cocktail. I kid you not – in fact the story of the Monkey Gland is even weirder than you [...]

  9. [...] who don’t care for gin would be surprised by the mellow way the flavors coalesce, and though some have found a full teaspoon of absinthe to be too much, I find it to be the perfect amount. There are also [...]