Monday, January 31, 2011

arsenic and old lace

1 1/2 oz Gin (Bombay Dry)
1/2 oz Absinthe (La Muse Verte)
3 dash Crème de Violette (1/4 oz Rothman & Winter, 1/2 oz last time)
3 dash Dry Vermouth (1/4 oz Noilly Prat)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last Monday, we revisited a drink that we had tried before Andrea and I were invited aboard the blog, namely the Arsenic and Old Lace. Actually, Jess had made this drink a few weeks after I had written in my livejournal about it, but I only just discovered that fact now. Regardless, it is one worth reexamining. The recipe we used last week was from Trader Vic's 1947 Bartender's Guide. Given the date of the publication (assuming that this was the earliest source), it is very possible that the drink was named after a 1939 play by Joseph Kesselring that was adapted into a film starring Cary Grant and released in 1944. This time, I interpreted the 3 dashes in the recipe as a quarter ounce. The first time we made the drink, the recipe was from Stan Jones' Complete Barguide and Stan used pastis which would have been more available in the 1970s than absinthe, and he interpreted the 3 dashes in the Vic recipe as a half ounce of crème de violette and a quarter ounce of dry vermouth. Stan's changes made for a much sweeter and anise-driven drink than the one I chose here; I left the option for increasing the crème de violette to a half ounce in the recipe above.
The drink had a very beautiful opalescent green color from our absinthe verte combining with the crème de violette. When we made it over three years ago, the white louche of the pastis ended up creating more of a pale mauve hue especially with the double volume of violette. The two ingredients that played a large role in the appearance also affected the nose which was mainly the absinthe's licorice with a hint of a floral aroma. On the tongue, the sip was a light herbal flavor with the swallow being a combination of the absinthe, gin, and violette notes swirling together. Even though the absinthe version lacked the sugar content of the pastis one, it was still not painfully dry; moreover, the violette seemed to be more subtle here so perhaps Stan Jones' call for a half ounce was not a bad one after all.

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