Guest Post by Alex W. Rodriguez, jazz guy, friend of the blog, and future UCLA Ph.D. Ethnomusicology candidate. For Alex’s thoughts on jazz check out his blog Lubricity, WBGO radio, or the Newark Star Ledger.
After my grandfather passed away, my dad and his sisters began to take inventory of the stuff that he had kept in their childhood home in Central Oregon—books, knickknacks, and all paraphernalia that accumulates in a lifetime. The most fascinating material came from his collection of books, and perhaps the strangest gem of all is Old Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide.
Published in 1935, in the wake of prohibition’s repeal, it reads like a hastily-thrown-together mishmash of recipes to promote Old Mr. Boston alcohol products. But I have never come across anything that has immediately evoked the spirit of the 1930s (pun most definitely intended) than this little brown book. Take this formal introduction to Old Mr B. himself:
Sirs, –May we now present to you Old Mr. Boston in permanent form. We know you are going to like him. He is a jolly fellow, one of those rare individuals, everlastingly young, a distinct personality and famous throughout the land for his sterling qualities and genuine good fellowship. His friends number in the millions those who are great and those who are near great even as you and I. He is jovial and ever ready to accept the difficult role of “Life of the Party,” a sympathetic friend who may be relied upon in any emergency. Follow his advice and there will be many pleasant times in store for you. Gentlemen, Old Mr. Boston!
Still, I never really knew what to do with it—growing up in Portland, Oregon, I’ve always been more of a beer-drinker than a cocktail-sipper. But when Rose and Sean started the Five O’Clock Cocktail blog, I knew that Old Mr. Boston could finally see the light of day in the 21st century. At the invitation of the gracious pair, I joined them for an introduction to cocktail-making on a Sunday afternoon at their apartment.
With a lot of help from Sean, I put together this lovely concoction—Rose also added some of the finishing touches. I did, however, proudly man the cocktail shaker. And lo and behold, it tasted really good! Cool, refreshing, but not sugary-sweet, the Income Tax Cocktail seems like a lovely way to get toasted and celebrate the completion of your annual fiscal duties. Enjoy!
The Income Tax
(adapted from Old Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide)
2 oz. Hendricks Gin
3/4 oz. Cinzano Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz. Punt e Mes Italian Vermouth
1 1/4 oz. Fresh Orange Juice
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into your most retro cocktail glass.
The original recipe, which called only for “Italian,” aka sweet vermouth and 1 dash of bitters, left the Income Tax a tad sweet and uninspired. Adding a bit more bitters and substituting the more astringent Punt e Mes for the sweet vermouth brought this post-Repeal potable back to life.