Drink of the Day — The Bull Moose Cocktail


Today’s drink of the day is the Bull Moose Cocktail.

Bull Moose

The Progressive Party was also called the Bull Moose Party as a result of Theodore Roosevelt claiming to “feel like a bull moose” when it was founded in 1912. From that point on, both Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Party were popularly nick-named “Bull Moose.” [Theodore Roosevelt was not actually called Bull Moose at any time during his presidency, which ended in 1909.]

The party stood for limiting the growth of corporate power and that of political contributors. It stood for making public all political contributions — and severely limiting them. The party also wanted to create of a National Health Service and stood for direct elections of U.S. senators — and for the general expansion of democracy. Like Abraham Lincoln, the Progressive Party supported the rights of organized labor unions to represent workers and act on their behalf. Unlike Lincoln, the Progressive Party proposed mechanisms to prevent labor unions from being disruptive to the economy.

In a way, the founding of the Progressive party was a split in the Republican Party. Teddy Roosevelt essentially took the progressives with him out of the GOP in 1912. If you think that American history has been better with a Republican Party devoid of a progressive, pro-labor, pro-national healthcare, anti-corporate-power wing, you can thank Theodore Roosevelt for that. If you think that American history would have been preferable with a Republican Party still influenced by its progressive, Abraham Lincoln wing, you can blame Theodore Roosevelt.

As for the Progressive Party, there was controversy right at the founding convention, when it appeared that the anti-trust (anti-corporate) position was being watered down — seemingly under the influence of Teddy, himself. In this political cartoon of the time, he is shown to be adding some of just about every political opinion into the mix, trying to keep everyone happy.

Bull Moose

Perhaps the Bull Moose Cocktail was meant to be evocative of the same critique. The Evening World (of New York) and the Washington Herald both published the drink, very topically, in July of 1912. It has a lot going on — but still falls within the parameters of the true cocktail (meaning the specific type of drink according to American tradition). Like the political party, the Bull Moose Cocktail did not become a lasting feature in the American landscape. It may have been too topically named for it’s own good once the moment had passed. It is an old drink, but isn’t a ‘classic,’ or even a cult, drink.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try one! It was published in the proportions of 1-to-2, with twice as much of the modifying, sweetening vermouth wine as the total of the two spirits. As you can see from my recipe (by clicking on the image to enlarge it), I prefer it at 1-to-1. I also prefer making the brandywine part of the jigger, rather than just a gratuitous dash.

As for the nerve tonic in the original recipe, medical literature from the time suggests that nerve tonic was commonly made of cinchona. So, I use cinchona bitters (such as Campari Bitter or Aperol Aperitvo).

Here it is — in both the original recipe from the Evening World and the ways I make it:

Evening World Bull Moose Cocktail

Bull Moose Cocktail

2 thoughts on “Drink of the Day — The Bull Moose Cocktail

  1. This is an interesting drink, to be sure. It seems a bit bitter-forward, but not unpleasantly so. Then again, I am fond of bitter notes in drinks, as you may recall.

    I think you might like to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s _The Bully Pulpit_ which documents the initially cordial and later stormy relationship between T. Roosevelt and W. Howard Taft, and their respective relationships with “Big Business” and affinities with the values of the “common man” at the time. It would frame a great deal of that era’s progressive accomplishments with some context that would appeal to you, I suspect.

    It also covers the incestuous relationship the US Presidency has had with the Press, and the emerging maturity and complexity of that relationship which was already well into full flower by this point.

    All the best.

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