Sunday, February 21, 2010


The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XLVI) is "Absinthe" as picked by Sonja Kassebaum at the Thinking of Drinking blog. Sonja described her chosen theme as, "The topic for February is Absinthe. That much maligned, misunderstood, mistreated spirit, suddenly plentiful again in the US and other parts of the world. Absinthe played a role, whether large or small, in a variety of great cocktails from the 1800's and early 1900's -- the Sazerac, Absinthe Suissesse, Corpse Reviver No. 2... I'm getting thirsty. So let's celebrate absinthe's history, and it's future, with all manner of cocktails using absinthe."
An absinthe drink that stood out in a recent purchase, Jacques Straub's Drinks, was the Lusitania. While everyone today knows the Lusitania as the ship that was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in 1915 -- an action that was instrumental in bringing the United States into World War I, this drink has nothing to do with that tragedy for the recipe was published the year before in 1914! Thus, the Lusitania cocktail was no Remember the Maine -- an absinthe-laden drink that commemorates the sinking of the Maine which brought the United States into the Spanish American War. No, it is a drink praising the ship while it was still sailing. The Lusitania was one of the fastest ships of its day and captured the Blue Riband for the quickest westbound trans-Atlantic voyage followed a few voyages later by the quickest eastbound trip. This grand ship traveled at speeds averaging over 25 knots and made the voyage in well under 5 days.
• 1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
• 1/2 oz Good Brandy (Larresingle VSOP Armagnac)
• 1 dash Absinthe (1 barspoon Pernod Absinthe)
• 1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. I made the addition of an orange twist to the recipe.
Another thing that attracted me to this drink was that appeared like a solid aperitif cocktail. The Lusitania started with a rather pleasant anise and orange oil nose. The star interaction in the drink was how well the Noilly Prat and the Pernod Absinthe played together; the wormwood in each as well as the sharp note in the Noilly Prat created a wondrous taste. Secondary to that were the orange notes from the bitters, the citrus peel in the vermouth, and the twist I added to the recipe. The brandy rounded off the Lusitania by providing a rich mouthfeel. The drink certainly captured the time period and Andrea commented that, "this has a very old world feel to it." I can well imagine drinking this cocktail on the first class deck right before a sumptuous dinner.
Cheers to Sonja for hosting this month's Mixology Monday and to Paul for running the show as always!


Craig said...

I suppose that one should properly use Portuguese brandy in this drink (Lusitania is the Latin name for Portugal)...

~Sonja~ said...

Thanks Frederic, I'm looking forward to trying this one. Cheers!

Barbara West said...

Man, I love drinks that I can make without shopping for fruit.

Ludlow said...

I am very embarrassed to admit that I don't have any Noilly Prat on hand right now. But after last weekend, I plan on picking some up very soon so that I can taste this cocktail as it was intended. The recipe looked intriguing, so when a friend asked for a lower-alcohol cocktail I made her a Lusitania using Dolin Blanc (a tasty but sweeter clear vermouth). It was such a hit that she and her friend kept on drinking Lusitanias throughout the entire evening. Thanks for the great blog.

ynot said...

Thank you for sharing! I have written a book about the sinking of the Lusitania titled L U S I T A N I A R. E. X and the launch party is next Tuesday in London (Royal Institute of British Architects). I will see if the caterers can make Lusitanias instead of the Manhattans I ordered. I also shared your recipe (and photo) with credit to you - hope you don't mind. If you're in London track me down and join us.