Between the Sheets

August 15th, 2005

Having found unexpected pleasure in the Monkey Gland, it seems wise to reserve judgment about other winkingly-named vintage drinks, in the hopes that some rise above mere novelty. And how better to honor the stimulating promise of the Monkey Gland than to move directly to third base with another salacious standard of the 30’s, the Between the Sheets?

1 1/2 oz. Cognac
1 1/2 oz. white or gold rum
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. lemon juice

Shake, strain, and garnish with a twist.

I can’t put a date to the drink, but Charles Baker’s 1939 Gentleman’s Companion — after a circuitous tale involving riots, stonings, tommy guns and girls being crushed to death by falling masonry — attributes the Between the Sheets’ origins to a certain Mr. Weber, keeping bar at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. It is, Baker declares, “totally sound, and already quite famous throughout the Near East.” His recipe, incidentally, calls for equal parts of everything.

The recipe above is from Wondrich’s Esquire Drinks, which in turn derives it from David Embury’s in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Embury suggests using lime as an alternative to the lemon, and calls for a gold rum. I’ve mixed the Between the Sheets with lemon and lime, Bacardi and Mount Gay Eclipse, but no variation manages to please. All are too tart by half, with nothing to really back up the citrus.

Embury may be a looming legend of mixology, but I confess that his recommended expression of the Between the Sheets was the one I committed to the sink. In this, I am in accord with Patrick Gavin Duffy, whom Wondrich notes flagged the BTS as being one he “personally [did] not recommend.” I deem it a cocktail to avoid.

Note: Other variations may yet prove palatable. Old Mr. Boston’s recipe calls for a scant 1/4 lemon’s juice, which addresses my concern about the tartness. Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts (1949), on the other hand, presents a “Between-Sheets” comprised of 1/3 cognac, 1/3 crème de cacao, 1/3 cream, a dash of bitters, a teaspoon of sugar and a bit of lemon peel — just cognac and the garnish in common.

Daily Lush Magazine

August 14th, 2005

We are pleased to note, albeit somewhat tardily, the advent of The Daily Lush, a new blogzine about matters drink-related which appears to have emerged fully-formed from the collective skull of its creators last month. True to its name, DL is updated with a fresh, meaty article daily… impressive, and not a pace to which we would dare aspire. There’s not much background on the feverishly productive duo responsible, but Max Sparber and Courtney Mault, denizens of New Orleans, claim authorship on alternate days..

Update: [04/01/08] We note, belatedly, the passing of The Daily Lush. Katrina seemed to take the wind from her sails, and Sparber… well, the grass doesn’t grow under his feet. The man is an industry unto himself.

The Monkey Gland

August 14th, 2005

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.

The Millionaire

August 11th, 2005

This evening we note with interest the Millionaire Cocktail from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. His is a modernized incarnation of The Savoy Cocktail Book‘s “Millionaire #1” and The How and When‘s “Millionaire #4.” It is deep ruby red, tart and pleasing… for better or worse, it’s amazing how the dark rum all but vanishes under cover of the other ingredients. (This Millionaire is unrelated to the previously documented “Millionaire #2.”)

1 1/2 oz. Myers’s Original Dark Rum
3/4 oz. sloe gin
3/4 oz. apricot brandy
Juice of 1 lime

Shaken and strained.

The “juice of 1 lime” business is a bit squishy. Haigh declares the ballpark to lie between 1 and 1 1/2 ounces, and while Ms. Thirsty found the full juice of one of our limes to be too tart, it was just right for me. The appropriate volume will need to be individually quantified.

Other issues, uniquely Oregonian, derive from a state-wide paucity of decent apricot brandies and sloe gins: I am reduced to using Mr. Boston products. The result is satisfactory enough that it deserves documentation, but Millionaires mixed in less restricted states will benefit from better ingredients. Mr. Boston’s artificially-flavored, caramel-colored apricot brandy is particularly foul, and should be avoided whenever possible.

Tune in, Turn on, Drink Up

August 10th, 2005

podcast iconI’m not a particular fan of podcasts — I haven’t an iPod, so I have to listen while tethered — but one takes one’s resources where one finds them. Of particular note: At Brown’s Bar [iTunes]. A monthly, twenty-odd minute show, At Brown’s Bar offers a continuing conversation on matters cocktailian between Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller, authors of Shaken Not Stirred: A Celebration of the Martini and publishers of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail. It’s a bit rough around the edges, in the way of many podcasts, but I’ve enjoyed the episodes so far and am looking forward to future installments.

There’s precious little else in the realm of mixological podcasts, but Vegas Vic’s Tiki Lounge does offers a nice Polynesian/Exotica-themed ‘cast [iTunes] for your Tiki-worshipping, Mai Tai-drinking, Martin Denny-jonesing moments.