Thursday, March 11, 2010

joan blondell

1 oz Dry Gin (Bombay Dry)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 oz Benedictine
2-3 drop Absinthe (Pernod Fils)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

I recently purchased the Latin Quarter Souvenir Book Of Cocktails & How To Mix Them which presents about a hundred cocktails served at Lou Walters' 1940's nightclubs in Boston, New York, and Miami. Walters' clubs were legendary for their dancers and showgirls who were "exquisite examples of perfect young American womanhood." Many of the drinks honor such "exquisite examples" as the one we made on Tuesday evening, the Joan Blondell. Blondell was a famous actress during that time; she started in the 1930's and won fans with her sexy wisecracking blonde persona, and her long television and movie career lasted until her death in 1979.
The hint of absinthe in the Joan Blondell cocktail worked well with the Benedictine. At 2 or 3 drops, the flavor was far from dominant, and perhaps the drink could be improved by increasing it to a rinse instead to give the absinthe more than the miniscule role it plays in the profile. The recipe seemed like it could use a garnish, so I repeated the experiment of adding an orange twist to one glass and a lemon twist to the other. Again the orange oils made the drink seem smoother and sweeter while the lemon oils made the drink seem sharper; the orange twist complemented the vermouth better and pushed the hiding absinthe notes forward, and thus, we considered it the garnish winner. The Joan Blondell rather reminded me of the Caprice Cocktail that I discovered on Chuck Taggart's Gumbo Pages blog a few years ago. I remember making quite a few of those spicy, straw-colored Martini variants in the weeks following that.

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