Wednesday, November 30, 2011

champ clark

2/3 Rye Whiskey (2 oz Ryan & Wood)
1/6 Apricot Brandy (1/2 oz Rothman & Winter)
1/6 Sweet Vermouth (1/2 oz Vya)
1 dash Ojen (1 barspoon La Muse Verte Absinthe)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry (Luxardo Maraschino).

Two Mondays ago for a nightcap, I flipped through the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 to one of the drinks I had marked off, the Champ Clark. What caught my eye was how similar it was to the Slope with sweet vermouth and Ojen bitters in place of the Slope's Punt e Mes and Angostura. The drink was named after one of the politicians of the day, James Beauchamp Clark. Champ was a Democrat who worked his way up to being the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1912, he raised his political aspirations to the Presidency; however, Woodrow Wilson ended up getting the nod as the Democratic presidential candidate that year. After a let down like that, I am sure that he could have used one of these cocktails. Moreover, since Clark was strongly opposed to Prohibition that unfortunately came upon the country shortly before the end of his political career, we should raise a glass for his efforts.
The cocktail began with an absinthe and rye whiskey aroma that led into a malty sip with a hint of grape. The swallow presented the rye's barrel notes that merged gracefully with the apricot flavors, and the absinthe rounded out the Champ Clark on the finish. Even with a lot of apricot liqueur in the drink, it did not come across as such; perhaps the combination of rye and absinthe helped to subdue it. Overall, the drink reminded me a bit of another political cocktail, the Remember the Maine which utilizes cherry brandy in place of the Champ Clark's apricot.


Jordan said...

Any word on whether or not the Ryan & Wood rye will be for sale online any time soon? It sounds like good and quite reasonably priced stuff, but looks to be hard to get over here on the west coast.

frederic said...

I just checked around the web and saw no online vendors yet. According to their website, no store further than 40 or 50 miles from the distillery sells it. Like a lot of these smaller distilleries, they use local means to establish themselves since the bigger guys need volume (or they are too expensive to use).

Their Knockabout Gin is rather good too. I haven't tried their rum or vodka though.