In a previous blog post we dealt with the subject of cocktail names. You can give a cocktail, or anything for that matter, a fancy intriguing name but none of that matters if the drink is unappetizing. The Complete Bartenders Guide is abundant with amazing cocktail names but (if you’ve been following along) lacking in flavorful cocktails. Once again we are presented with some marvelous cocktail names like ALLIES, AMABILE BEONE, AMARANTH, AMBASSADOR, and AMBER CLOUD. Ok maybe not AMBER CLOUD—that sounds too bodily or toxic even—but the others have a certain joie de vivre, a je ne sais quoi if you will. Doing a bit of research online brings up nothing about the history of these drinks except for a small tidbit about the ALLIES cocktail. One would think there would be some sort of history for the AMABILE BEONE—but alas, diddly squat.
With no history for four out of the five cocktails, it made me wonder: How then do you name a cocktail? Online I found few cocktail name generators, a post on stories behind bartenders cocktail creations, and a great post from Art of the Drink on how to name a cocktail. With these tools I will attempt to give each cocktail a better name that truly encapsulates the drink.
Before we get on with the drinks, I would like to confess that for the first time we have to skip a drink in the book. Rule #3 states: “Drinks must be made in order – NO EXCEPTIONS.” Well, we have an exception: the ALMOND COCKTAIL. The recipe uses a crushed peach kernel, but peaches are not in season yet so we have amended the NO EXCEPTIONS clause. There are actually a few recipes coming up that use peaches so the plan is to hold off on them and do a peach heavy post.
And now back to booze.
The ALLIES cocktail relates to World War I with the English, French, and Russians representing the Triple Entente. The recipe uses English gin, French vermouth, and Russian kümmel. The naming of this cocktail works wonderfully but does it taste good?
1 oz. gin
1 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1-2 dashes kümmel (Combier)
Combine with ice; shake well. Strain and add ice.
We didn’t have any English gin on hand so we used American Aviation gin. We also didn’t have any Russian kümmel so we used French Combier kümmel. We did have French Dolin vermouth though. So our allies were limited but still allies nonetheless.
In a sense this is a shaken high vermouth martini. Eric and I both have high hopes for this cocktail. We both like kümmel in our own way and we both would like to find a good cocktail to use it in—but this is not that cocktail. With kümmel a little goes a long way, and the drink is heavy on vermouth and kümmel. Eric thinks the ALLIES cocktail is a soupy martini and I don’t disagree—definitely it has ended his love affair with kümmel. I don’t think that using an English gin and a Russian kümmel would change this drink for the better.
Scores: Eric 4, Brian 4.
And now we set forth on cocktails with no known history as far as the internet is concerned. Our first is the AMABILE BEONE which is Italian for amiable drunk. The definition of amiable is having or displaying a friendly or pleasant manner and we all know what a drunkard is, so how could you go wrong.
1 oz. Drambuie
2 oz. Green Crème de Menthe
A few drops of Pernod
Combine with ice; shake well. Strain. “Sugar Frost” glass. Coat the rim with Pernod, and dip it in sugar.
My first sip isn’t bad. I don’t let it linger as The Cranberries would say and that is a mistake. Eric however does and emphatically states, “That’s horrible. This gets a zero.” I will say this, there is an odd syrupiness to it and the sugar coating is less sweet than the drink itself, but I would rather have this than the ALLIES. Having used our DIY crème de menthe time and time again I can only come to one conclusion, it is not good crème de menthe. As much as it pains me to say this but I think I need to try this again with better crème de menthe.
The name is still good for this cocktail of sugary booze in that you are a drunkard if this is your only drink and you are amiable in the fact that you have fresh breath.
Scores: Eric 0+, Brian 4.
The AMARANTH. Amaranth is derived for Greek amarantos meaning unfading. Amaranth is a genus of annual or perennial plants. Most Amaratus species are referred to as pigweed. To me it sounds like a Dutch sailing ship from the 1600’s. Looking at the recipe however does not make me think of the golden age of piracy or pig fodder. No, looking at this recipe makes me think sweet whiskey highball. A highball being an alcoholic base with a larger quantity of a non alcoholic mixer; think Scotch and soda, gin and tonic, cuba libre, Americano, pimms cup, etc. If this is basically just a whiskey highball then why is there no history to this cocktail. AMARANTH you vex me so.
1 oz. rye
1 dash bitters (any kind)
Combine the rye, bitters, and a dash of powdered sugar in a glass. Stir well. Add ice and fill with club soda.
Eric rehashes our figure skating analogy from previous posts. Do I like you or did you put in a good effort? Rating artistic merit is totally objective, so when attempting to rate a drink that is another drink with the slightest modification it’s problematic. Here they have taken a whiskey highball added a dash of any kind of bitters (this option could put the drink on either ends of the good/bad spectrum) and powdered sugar. The club soda tamps down the bitters but keeps the sweetness from the sugar.
We both like this drink but its only ambition is its name because ultimately it’s a sweet rye whiskey highball. Amaranth is the most ambitious name. It’s like some pretentious person coming into a poetry class, “I’ve got a poem it’s called Amaranth!” But then the poem is just a play on roses are red. Roses are red, grain is brown, look at me like that and I’ll give you a frown.
New names for this drink could be Bitter & Sweet High & Rye, or the Sweet High Rye.
Scoring: Eric 6.5, Brian 6.
For some reason whenever I hear the word ambassador I think of the movie The Man Who Knew Too Little, one of Bill Murray’s underrated masterpieces. In the movie, which is a spoof of the Hitchcock classic The Man Who Knew Too Much, Murray plays a video store clerk visiting his brother in London who is mistaken for a spy and hilarity ensues. Once the memory of that movie wanes I think ambassador to countries, someone of some power. This is where I hope this name comes from. A drink that wields power. A drink that, wait its just tequila and orange juice sweetened with sugar syrup. Ok so I guess there is power but it doesn’t have the sophistication that I hope a true ambassador has. Maybe its not like, say the ambassador of Japan and more like the party ambassador on a booze cruise in Cancun.
2 oz. Tequila
Pour the tequila into glass, add ice and orange juice. Add 1 oz. of sugar syrup to sweeten.
Eric and I debated the use of sugar syrup to sweeten this. The syrup is not actually in the ingredients list. Is it and option? Do people like their tequila and orange juice sweetened? The recipe also doesn’t state how much orange juice to use. Is this a tequila highball or do we use a smaller amount of OJ? We go with three ounces of OJ and don’t sweeten it. After my first sip of tequila and orange juice I emphatically state, “This tastes like college.” And with that I have named this cocktail, COLLEGE. We then try it sweetened but not with the full one ounce of sugar syrup. Guess what, the drink is worse. I’m not sure that there is a way to make tequila, OJ, and sugar syrup taste good unless the sugar syrup is flavored like in a TEQUILA SUNRISE.
Scores: Eric 3, Brian sweetened 3 non-sweetened 4
For our final drink of the day we have the AMBER CLOUD. This name does not invoke any good images for me. Thoughts of Agent Orange or…I should probably just stop there. Cognac and Galliano sounds like someone had too many AMBASSADORS and started to play around in the liquor cabinet. Nothing like taking a beautifully aged brandy and mixing it with an herbaceous anise-vanilla liqueur. Actually that doesn’t sound too bad and once again Eric and I push reason aside grasp onto hope.
1.5 oz. cognac (Hennessy)
2 Tbs. Galliano
Combine with ice, shake well. Pour over crushed ice.
Nope. The drink looks great but the Cognac and the Galliano are like a cheating couple in a bitter divorce battle.
Eric: “Ughhh, amber cloud…”
Me: “The name must mean what your brain feels like after having one too many of these.”
With that last statement I think the AMBER CLOUD is perfectly named. It’s an avoidable drink.
Scores: Eric 1.5 “The .5 is because my crushed ice looks so good,” Brian 2.5 2.
Well there you have it. Some of those drinks are aptly named while others needed an update.
Session Alternative of Actual Quality:
2 oz. Scotch
1 oz. Drambuie
Dash orange bitters
Build the drink in the glass with ice.
-Babies (Eric is the proud father of a baby girl and my wife and I are expecting our first child in May)
-Pizza delivery ranges
-Cost of good pizza
-Using a toaster oven to cook a steak
-Liquor closet or liquor locker
-Pictures in the Complete World Bartender Guide