The Lucien Gaudin

Here’s a gem of a drink that I’ve only just now discovered. It shouldn’t have taken so long — both Kaiser Penguin and The Spirit World have covered it — but I tumbled to the Lucien Gaudin via Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. It had heretofore escaped my attention, as it shares a page with the frightful-looking Leatherneck and didn’t rate its own photo or extended commentary. Oh, Lucien … you deserve better.

Lucien GaudinM. Gaudin was a renowned French fencing champion who earned the world title in 1905 and went on to win four gold and two silver medals in the 1920, 1924 and 1928 Olympics. Robert Hess speculates that the drink may have been created to commemorate the 1928 performance, when Gaudin took the golds for both individual foil and épée, but if so, the celebration was relatively short-lived … a banker in professional life, financial difficulties drove Gaudin to commit suicide only six years later, in 1934.

1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/2 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. Cointreau

Stir with cracked ice, strain and garnish with orange peel.

As a drink, the Lucien Gaudin bears more than a passing resemblance to the Negroni. Half as much Campari makes it less bitter, but the dry vermouth and Cointreau in the Gaudin combine to create a lighter, less syrupy substitute for the Negroni’s sweet vermouth. A pale rosé compared to the Negroni’s dark ruby hue, it’s tempting to liken the Lucien Gaudin to a Negroni with training wheels on, in that Campari can be challenging to some palates, but that would be a disservice. Each has its own merits, and as a lighter, cleaner cocktail, the Lucien Gaudin is better-suited to occasions where a crisp drink is wanted. If you enjoy a Negroni (and why wouldn’t you?) the Lucien Gaudin deserves your consideration. You may find it to be a new favorite.

Looking for variations, a cursory turn through the bookshelf finds only one other source for the Lucien Gaudin, in Trader Vic’s 1948 Bartender’s Guide. Vic’s recipe yields a smaller drink — just 1 1/2 oz. — with a higher gin ratio (3:1:1:1). Those seeking a similar ratio in a more modern size should increase the gin to 1 1/2 oz. in the recipe above.

17 thoughts on “The Lucien Gaudin”

  1. I should note that another reason I turned to this cocktail was its lack of fruit (garnish notwithstanding), as I was out of citrus. There must be a term for a drink whose bill of materials doesn’t call for perishable products … if not, one should be devised. How often do you find yourself turning page after page, looking for something to mix but finding that you lack the requisite lemon, lime, or orange?

  2. Acarpous? It lacks the negative connotations of the straight English “fruitless,” at least. Not a terribly sexy adjective — it makes me think of koi — but I think I prefer its pseudo-intellectual specificity to a more jocular name … the piratophile (as long as we’re neologising) in me is tempted to suggest something scurvy-related, but it would likely go the way of the squirrel.

  3. I think I’d say a-car-puss, with a very subtle something-or-other in the “puss” that would need a linguist to describe properly.

    Carpano and rye is acarpous,
    Mixed 1 part to 2 and served up.
    No mar’schino cherries
    (nor citrus, nor berries)
    Blight Jimmy’s Manhattanite cup.

    Happy holidays yourself!

  4. The Playboy cocktail book (’68?) lists a drink called the Cardinal, a Negroni with dry vermouth. I’ve mixed it a couple times and found it to be a very pleasant alternative to the Negroni. Less syrupy, as you note of this Lucien Gaudin.

  5. Oh so? I don’t have any Playboy cocktail guides. Would this be the Playboy Host and Bar Book, Playboy’s Bar Guide or The Playboy Bartender’s Guide, all by by Thomas Mario?

    So, the Cardinal is equal parts gin, dry vermouth and Campari? Sounds delightful. I sometimes extend my Negronis with an ounce or so of fizzy water (Apollinaris is to be preferred) to take the syrupy edge off.

  6. The Playboy’s Host and Bar Book, and (reading from it as I type), it calls this a “Cardinal II”, and recommends a lemon twist (removing it from the acarpous list).

  7. Just found this web page and the Lucien Gaudin does sound wonderful. I have to add that I do feel some frustration with similar drinks having different names. It’s hard to remember which was which sometimes, if it’s not a classic.

  8. I, too, rarely garnish with fresh fruit except for twists. I’ve been enjoying this for a while now. I really like the contrasts between the dry I get from the Campari herbiness and the sweet from the Cointreau. One can taste both (at least I do).
    Also, I finished off a bottle of Cointreau one evening but was a few dashes short of 1/2 oz., and instead of digging out another bottle, I added a capfull (teaspoon) of cherry brandy. Turned out very good so we coined it the Madame Gaudin.

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