This is the second part of my exploration of the recipes in the Downton Abbey Cocktail Book that I received for Christmas. This begins on May fifth (Cinco de Mayo) after part one left off on May 3. This section of the book has drinks from The Drawing Room. These are predinner cocktails and hangover helpers.
For May 5 I had a Corpse Reviver No 1. This drink is from Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book which advises “To be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed”. It is simply sweet vermouth, apple brandy and cognac. I thought it would be stronger. It had a fake apple taste from the cheap apple brandy I bought. It was just OK.
This is a Downton variation of the previous drink with more flavors. It is in honor of Dr. Clarkson in the show. I had this one on May 6 which is my mother’s birthday. I didn’t get to see her due to the pandemic, and I was having major stress with my illness, missing work and worrying about money. This drink was better than the previous one but still had the fake apple flavor so not a favorite.
On May 7 I made a Corpse Reviver No 2. Per the book, New York born Crosby Gaige was a bon vivant of the 1930’s. Per Merriam Webster “Bon vivant definition is – a sociable person who has cultivated and refined tastes especially with respect to food and drink.” So I learned a new term. He once said that one Corpse Reviver would revive any self-respecting corpse, but that four taken in swift succession would return the corpse to a reclining position. Here is what Corpse Reviver No 2 is supposed to look like.
And here is my first attempt. I figured out that I have the wrong Cocchi liquor so I used a dry vermouth and added tonic water to give some quinine taste to it. I noticed that it looked different from the photo, and then realized that I had mistakenly used Angostura bitters instead of absinthe. This first attempt was not that great.
So I made a second attempt. For this recipe I actually looked up from The Kitchn site how much was in a dash because the recipe called for two dashes of absinthe, and I wanted to be careful with the amount I was using. Per this site one dash is ~1/6 of a teaspoon. This second attempt was really good.*
On May 9, I was quite ill and missed the Mother’s Day/Uncle Memorial Tom’s family had. We are in financial lockdown due to my inability to work so I couldn’t buy Canadian whisky for this drink. But Tom was able to provide me with his flask of Crown Royal that he takes on camping trips so saved the day. I sipped on this drink in the shower and then watching Papa Chubby online. It was at this point that I figured out I had forgotten the lemon juice. The drink was so-so but may have been better with the juice. The drink is named for the Major Peter Gordon who believed he was actually Patrick Crowley, the presumed dead heir to the estate. The ice cube is supposed to be an iceberg due to his “death” on the Titanic.
On May 10 I had The Valet drink. This is a variation of Never Doubt and Ramos Gin Fizz, but it has orgeat syrup in it. I loved this drink. I have learned to love the orgeat syrup and already loved fizzes and cream so this was great. It was not too sweet and had a lovely flavor. I will definitely be making this one again!*
On May 11 I had a Gin Rickey. Per the book, this is the most popular drink in the fizz category. “It makes a very refreshing quaff while strolling the gardens on a hot summer day.” Here is what it is supposed to look like.
The drink is simply gin, fresh lime juice and club soda. I thought this was really good. It wasn’t ginny and would make a great summertime drink.*
This next drink contains Benedictine which is a French liqueur invented by a wine merchant in the late Victorian period. He claimed it was based on a long lost monastic manuscript, marketed it as a health drink, and kept the recipe secret. It was made in Fecamp where WWI soldiers were billeted after the armistice. Hopefully they had some Benedictine. The Moselle Cup called for moselle wine. I could not find any so substituted a German reisling instead. This drink was pretty and elegant but to me lacked flavor. As an aside, I started my Brandy Shrub on this day.
On May 13 came the Upstairs Cocktail. This is described as a refreshing and low-proof cocktail before dinner. This is what it is supposed to look like.
The recipe calls for Dubonnet. It turns out that Dubonnet is a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, but she likes it with a shot of gin. I did not try that. This was an interesting drink, but nothing great for me.
On May 15 I had a Donk. It is Scotch whisky and port wine with some lemon juice and seltzer. I thought this drink was boring, and I couldn’t taste the 1 1/2 bar spoons of whisky in it. But it was a poor quality Scotch I was using so maybe could have tasted it if it were truly peaty.
On May 16 I had a Knickerbocker. This is a late 19th century drink. I was alone this weekend so an evening cocktail was nice. The Blue Curacao made the color weird, but frozen strawberries make great ice cubes. It was a so-so cocktail.
On May 17 I had a Bijou. This recipe was first printed in the 1900 edition of Harry Johnson’s The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders Manual. I didn’t have Plymouth gin so used Tanqueray. I used dry vermouth instead of the called for sweet. As I was still on my own, I paired this with a Lemon Bergamot bath. I really liked this drink. It had a unique flavor (probably from the Chartreuse) and was elegant and pretty. I will make this again and may even consider getting Plymouth gin (if I can find it).*
On May 19 I had a Reggie’s Letter. This is a Bijou with dry vermouth (which I had already done the previous day) but also Fernet-Branca. This was also really good.*
The next chapter in the book is The Village- everyday drinks. I started on May 20 with Improved Ginger Beer. This is described as taking minimal work and producing a flavorful drink. For it you take fresh ginger and rubbing it through a sieve.
I honestly did not get much doing this. Then you heat sugar and water together and add salt and the leftover ginger bits and simmer for 5 minutes.
You let it cool and then strain it, pressing the ginger bits again. This is the ginger syrup.
To make the ginger beer you add club soda and lime juice to the ginger syrup. You can add your favorite spirit to it as well, I chose vodka just because I like Moscow Mules, and this seemed similar. I didn’t think it was very gingery so was just OK.
Here is a close up.
On May 22, the Brandy Shrub was ready. I had started it 10 days prior by combining brandy and lemon peel in a jar and letting it sit for 3 days.
You then strain the mixture and add sherry and sugar. You shake it a couple of times per day for 1 week,
You simply serve it chilled in an old fashioned glass. This is not like shrubs I have made in the past but based on the British ones which were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. This recipe came from Henry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book. For me this was way too sweet and hard to drink. There is a libation note at the bottom of the recipe suggesting that you make a toddy by mixing it with hot water, a slice of orange or lemon and a slice of fresh ginger. I did that and it was great.*
As an aside, I started a batch of Ginger Beer this day as well.
On May 24 I made a Black Velvet cocktail. This has nothing to do with the Canadian Whisky, It is simply Irish stout with Champagne carefully poured into a pint glass. I guess I wasn’t careful enough because it foamed everywhere. I did add the simple syrup that they suggested, and it did make it taste much better, brought out the flavors. This was the day that the New York Times posted almost 100,000 names of US COVID-19 victims. So a sad day with a drink that helped a tiny bit. This drink would be nice in warm weather when an Irish stout is not great. I will try this one again.*
On May 25 (Memorial Day) I had a Rob Roy. This supposedly originated in 1894 at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Its inspiration was the Manhattan premiere of the operetta about the life of Rob Roy MacGregor. It would be better with a sweet vermouth. I used the pick from the Peabody Hotel for the cherries. The drink was OK, but I do like any drink with maraschino cherries in it.
On May 26 I had a Bloody Mary. Bartender Fernand Petiot reportedly created this drink in the 1920’s at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. The bar was owned at the time by a former well-known jockey Tod Sloan. I do not believe that this is the original version. It has vodka, tomato juice, fresh lime juice, black pepper, ground cumin, salt, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. This is what it is supposed to look like.
And below is mine. I think I nailed it. This was probably the best Bloody Mary I have ever had, and I even went to a Bloody Mary bar in Key West last year. I am not sure why this was so good, but it was nice and peppery. I skipped the salt which I am glad of as it was plenty salty. I am definitely keeping this recipe.*
On May 27, we were at our mountain Boles Aero trailer. So I had to bring my cocktail ingredients. The cocktail was Stout Sangaree. This was described as a hearty drink for enjoying near the fireplace at the pub. It is Irish stout, ruby port and grated nutmeg.
This was really nice to drink at the Boles on the new picnic table. This was good, but not sure I will make it again.
On May 28 I had a Bobby Burns. This is a Rob Roy with Benedictine. Here the book describes injured WWI soldiers from the East Lancashire Regiment developing taste for it while recuperating at the Benedictine distillery-turned-makeshift-hospital. They apparently continued to enjoy it in the Burnley area after the war’s end. I used one of my grandfather’s picks from his stir stick collection for the cherries. I really liked this drink and will make it again.*
On May 29, the Ginger Beer was ready. I had started it 1 week prior by adding grated ginger root, lemon juice and lemon peel to heated sugar water. The recipe called for 3 tablespoons of ground ginger. I had noticed on previous recipes that ground sometimes seemed to mean grated so I grated the ginger. But then in the recipe it described dissolving the ginger in the water so I belatedly figured out they probably meant ground ginger. So I went ahead and added ground ginger too.
You dissolved some yeast in water and then spread it on toast. You put the toast on the ginger mixture and let it sit covered for 24 hours.You strain it and then leave it in a covered bowl for 5 days. I have these fermentation lids so I thought it would better to used the jars with them.
Then you strain it through paper towels in a sieve.
Then you pour the liquid into flip top bottles and can drink immediately. They suggested serving it over ice with a sprig of mint. For me this wasn’t sweet or gingery. I added some light rum, and it was only OK.
On May 30 I made Tom and Jerry. Traditionally it is served from a Tom and Jerry bowl into Tom and Jerry cups. I do not have any of that so improvised. Here is the batter with egg yolks mixed with sugar and baking soda. You add beaten frothy egg whites to this to get the batter.
The libation note said you can make individual drinks at this point by placing a heaping spoon of the batter, rum and brandy in a mug and top it with warmed milk. So that is what I did. You top it with grated nutmeg.
I only made a half recipe but still ended up with way more batter than I could possibly drink. This drink is good but very rich, so I couldn’t have more than 2. So the pigs got the leftover batter.
This is what they are supposed to look like.
On May 31 I had a Manhattan. This drink was developed in the 1860’s. This was simple but very good. I did use the Russo vermouth for this one as well as rye whisky.*
On June 1 I was on a clear liquid and no alcohol diet. So I saved the Orangeade recipe for this day. First you make an orange syrup with muddled orange zest and sugar.
It sits 24 hours and then you strain it through a sieve pressing it to get all the liquid out. Then you add strained fresh orange and lemon juices and orange flower water. To make the drink you add 1/4 cup of syrup to 3/4 cup of club soda. I thought it was too dilute so later made it with more syrup. It was OK, nothing great. After I had it, I noticed on my diet instructions no orange juice. But I still figured this was OK since all the pulped been strained out.
On June 4 I had their Old Fashioned. In the 18th century it was known as a bittered sling. Their recipe calls for 1 sugar cube with two dashes of Angostura bitters and a small amount of water muddled. You then add an ice cube, whiskey and a lemon twist. It was quite strong. I used the last of our Four Roses bourbon for this drink. It was good, but nothing can match my grandfather’s Old Fashioneds. I did get clearance to go back to work so it was celebratory.
On June 7 I had their Dry Martini. They suggest keeping your vermouth in the fridge to keep it fresh.
I am not a fan of martinis, but here is what mine looked like.
And here is what it is supposed to look like. I think I did OK.
On June 10 I made a Tom Collins cocktail. I accidentally made it before when I made the John Collins cocktail and did not have Genever gin. But I made it again. It was OK again. It would be nice for a summer drink, but other drinks are better.
On June 12 I made a Hot Buttered Rum. One of my favorite songs by Junkyard Jane kept rolling through my head as I made and drank this. I have made them before and like them. This one is elegant with the whole cloves and cinnamon stick. I used salted butter as the book suggested in the Libation Note. It paired well with a clove and cinnamon bath bomb. And the weather was crappy so that helped. I can only drink one of these though.
This evening I made an Apple Hot Toddy. I wasn’t optimistic as it takes the Apple brandy that I have hated in every recipe so far. Plus I overbaked the apple badly.
Plus this is what it is supposed to look like. I knew there was no way as I do not have a fancy cup like this so I didn’t even try.
So here is my toddy and a close up.
I know it doesn’t look good but it was, great in fact. The weird flavor of the brandy did not come through, and the mashed overbooked apple flavor was excellent. I am definitely going to make this again on cold rainy evening. Plus it is a good way to get rid of the brandy that I otherwise do not like.*
So that is the last recipe. I am so sad. This little experiment went way too fast, less than 6 months. But the pandemic and my almost-2-month medical leave did speed things along. I am glad I had these cocktails to provide some spice to my life, so to speak. I figure it wasn’t healthy with the sugar and the alcohol, but it was small amounts of both so I figured was worth it. Thanks to Christina and Keith for this little cocktail journey. I would highly recommend it.
PS The asterisks * are so I can easily find the cocktails I would like to make again in the future.