Saturday, January 2, 2021

barbary coast

1/4 Gin (3/4 oz Barr Hill)
1/4 Scotch (3/4 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition)
1/4 Crème de Cacao (3/4 oz Tempus Fugit)
1/4 Cream (3/4 oz)

Shake with cracked ice and pour into a Highball glass (shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon).

Two Saturdays ago, I selected Crosby Gaige's 1945 Cocktail Guide & Ladies' Companion and spotted the curiously named Death & Mr. Morgenthau. Soon, I realized that this combination of Scotch, gin, cacao, and cream was better known as the Barbary Coast first published in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book. While Gaige was the first (and occasionally the only one) to publish several recipes, that book is rife with renamed drinks (sometimes to fit the chapter's theme and other times for less obvious reasons). The original Barbary Coast was the section of North Africa patrolled by the Barbary pirates (also known as the Ottoman corsairs); however, the Barbary Coast with a cocktail connection was the saloon and red light district of San Francisco popular with sailors and gold seekers from 1849 into the early 1920s. It was the sailors who called this part the Barbary Coast in the 1860s due to its lawlessness. Gaige, though, opted to rename this quartet the Death & Mr. Morgenthau perhaps after Henry Morgenthau who was the US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Henry was one of the most prominent Americans who spoke up against the Armenian genocide.
Neither recipe specified a garnish, so I went with freshly grated cinnamon; grated nutmeg does appear in later recipes, but I had just used nutmeg the night before. Once prepared, the Barbary Coast welcomed the senses with chocolate and cinnamon aromas. Next, a creamy sip with roast notes flowed into smoky, chocolate, pine, and medicinal flavors on the swallow. The Scotch did take this Alexander-like drink in an unique direction; a softer, less smokier whisky might yield something a little less quirky.

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