Just as I often cannot keep it in my pants for Eric Felten, the PhoBlograpHusband‘s got it bad for Old Mr. Boston, the circa-1935 Official Bartenders Guide we received from a friend. It’s quite the thorough, reliably voiced tome, considering it doubles as a hardcover, portable advertisement for Old Mr. Boston’s erstwhile products, such as Old Mr. Boston Blended Whiskey and Connoisseur Creme de Cacao. (There’s even a glossy-paged centerfold replete with handsome liquor ads. Oh 1935, how naughty wast thou!)
Anyway, Sean was thumbing through the thing the other day and happened upon the Perfect Cocktail and asked if he should whip it
out up for the blog. I figured, yes, of course, why not, as we can talk about the concept of “perfect” in cocktail-making, that it’s not just a boast but that it actually means something, namely the addition of dry and sweet vermouths to a drink in equal measure.
Another mini history lesson is this: While these days nobody ever orders anything “perfect” unless they mean a Manhattan, back in the day, the assumption when you talked about a Perfect Cocktail was that gin would be your base liquor. Much like how the original Alexander was also a gin concoction until the Brandy Alexander came along with its swinging-from-the-chandeliers popularity — and, hand in hand, its more sugary-sweet flavor profile — and became the Alexander de rigueur. Or how Martini always meant gin and vermouth until vodka martinis started clouding up the whole affair. Of course, Martinis were derived from Martinezes which were derived from Manhattans… and the circle of life continues.
Anyway! The historical perspective I am trying to lay upon the Perfect Cocktail is, when we tasted the Old Mr. Boston recipe for the drink, we did not really like it at all upon first sip. This is what cocktails used to taste like before everything in our lives, from our morning cereal to our flouride toothpaste, started tasting like candy. It had such a grown-up, no-sweetness flavor profile that I dare say it was un-fun, and while Sean and I agreed that we could sit with it a spell, let it grow on us, learn to appreciate its odd angles, instead we just decided to do a couple dashes of Peychaud’s, which rendered it more in line with our modern-day ideas of grown-up pleasure. It is Friday, after all; who wants to be assigned homework right before the weekend?
The More Perfect Cocktail
(which builds upon the Perfect Cocktail recipe as published in Old Mr. Boston Official Bartenders Guide)
Equal parts Bombay Dry Gin, Stock Sweet Vermouth and Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth (we did 25ml, or about an ounce, each)
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir vigorously with a bar spoon. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.