Monday, February 20, 2012

hannibal hamlin

1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack (van Oosten)
1 1/2 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1/2 oz Maple Syrup
3/4 oz Orange Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I split this recipe two ways and added a lemon twist.

Two Saturdays ago, I decided on a curious drink I spotted in the Big Bartender's Book called the Hannibal Hamlin. Actually, there were two versions of it, and I was drawn more to the Batavia Arrack one found in F.J. Beutel's 1919 Die Modernen Getränke than the other one listed below:
Hannibal Hamlin (variation)
• 1 1/2 oz Rum
• 1 1/2 oz Cognac
• 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
• 1/2 oz Orange Juice
• 1/3 oz Honey (2 tsp)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. From American en Fancy Drinks Ijsrecepten en Dranken by W. Slagter cerca 1920.
What was exceptionally curious is why two German recipe books have a drink named after a vice president of the United States. Hamlin only served under Lincoln during his first term before being replaced by Andrew Johnson. With Hamlin's poor political record, TIME magazine actually ranked him as one of the worst vice presidents ever. Instead of becoming president after Lincoln was assassinated in the subsequent term, Hamlin spent the time "cavorting around Europe with his wife as a diplomat to Spain, until the age of 75." I surmised that in one of his adventures, he charmed German barmen into naming a drink after him. With a little research, I discovered that Matt Hamlin of A Jigger of Blog spotted the drink's name in a late 19th century list of libations Harry Johnson made at his bar; however, Johnson never left a recipe for it to confirm if either of these two are similar to his. I later discovered that William Schmidt may have recorded the earliest written recipe for this drink in his 1891 The Flowing Bowl:
Hannibal Hamlin (variation)
• Juice 1/2 Lemon
• Juice 1/2 Orange
• 2/3 Peach Brandy
• 1/3 Old Jamaican Rum
• 2 Tbsp Honey
Shake with ice and strain into a fancy glass.
Given that the Only William's recipe is closer to Slagter's, I have to assume that the Beutel one is a more distant variation.
The Hannibal Hamlin began with a lemon oil and funky Batavia Arrack aroma. The orange in the sip was bolstered by the maple's richness, and the swallow presented the Arrack softened by the Cognac and maple syrup. Indeed, the Arrack was not as aggressive or quirky as it can be, although the balance did become a bit sharper as the drink warmed up.

1 comment:

Hannibal Hamlin said...

I am delighted to learn of this cocktail, which I will try as soon as possible. I must take issue, however, with the TIME piece characterizing Hamlin as one of America's Worst Vice Presidents. Obviously, I have a special interest in Hamlin's reputation, but I'm not aware of any evidence that he was a carouser (he was in Spain because he was the ambassador). It was Andrew Johnson who was the drunk, and Hamlin had to shepherd him around the Capitol during the inauguration. Hamlin was a firm opponent of slavery, and indeed (as senator) crossed the floor of the Senate to join the Republican party because of that issue. He also opposed capital punishment, he fought for veterans' rights, and he himself joined the army (in a nominal way) during the Civil War. Two of his sons served as generals, one commanding one of the black units in the Union Army. According to the biography by his grandson, Lincoln consulted with Hamlin on the Emancipation Proclamation. So there!

But cheers.