Drink of the Day — The Swan Cocktail

Swan Cocktail ingredients

Today’s drink of the day is the Swan Cocktail. This little under-appreciated gem is another true cocktail (an indication of which part of the Elemental Mixology book I have been over-hauling).

I think that the oldest recipe is found in the pre-prohibition bar book of Waldorf bar-man, Joseph Taylor, as published by Albert Crockett in his 1931 book Old Waldorf Bar Days. (which I refer to instead of the 1935 book Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book because it is apparent to me that Crockett messed with Taylor’s recipes a little more in the later book to fit post-prohibition ideas). A slightly different version of the drink is found in Jacques Straub’s 1914 book, Drinks, that seems not as old. Straub uses dry gin and no sugar syrup where Taylor uses genever and gum syrup — both tending to indicate an older recipe. Neither indicated more than an accent of the juice – Taylor uses “the juice of one lime,” but before 1920 that would be the bartender’s, or Key, lime — with a juice yield anywhere from a few drops to about a quarter fluid-ounce. Taylor is thought to have begun writing his book just after he started working at the Waldorf in 1894, so there is a very real possibility that it was written down there before Straub ever began composing his book.

Taylor’s recipe calls for both sugar syrup and dry vermouth wine. I omit the sugar syrup and use bianco or blanc vermouth wine, since that form is essentially dry vermouth wine plus white sugar.

‘PubDumb’ has a lot of people fooled about amounts and methods when it comes to citrus juice. Don’t use too much and make this drink into a sour – it’s a juice-accented cocktail. Neither should you shake this drink and bruise the velvet of the liquor through aeration just because of that wee bit of lime juice. Do finely strain it for the pulp, though.

You really should make this drink. Here is the recipe with various possible proportions (they made it @ 1:1 in the old Waldorf bar — I like it @ 2:1). Click on the recipe if you want to see it larger.

Swan Cocktail recipe

Drink of the Day — The Old Portland Cocktail

Old Portland Cocktail visual

Many cities around the U.S.A. have had drinks named in their honor. I am sure that is also true of Portland, Oregon — but none appear in the noteworthy drink books of the past.

I have been coming to Oregon since the late 1960’s (as a small child). Now, I finally live here in Portland. I felt that the city deserves a drink, so I made this. This drink is more of a good drink than a deeply inspired one. My alumni will recognize that its form is fairly consistent with the Old Manhattan Cocktail of the 1880’s — but with drier, and more local, flavor.

If you don’t like this one, you probably never will favor true cocktails (I refer to the historically-accurate, and historic, type of drink — not tipples, in general).

Here it is. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Old Portland Cocktail recipe

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