Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Royalist Cocktail

All right, enough already with my "blogosophy". Here's a drink that Nishla posted at eGullet and a slightly revised version of my reply:
Royalist Cocktail (W.J. Tarling)
1.5 oz gin
.75 oz bourbon
.75 oz Benedictine
1 dash of peach bitters

Stirred and served in a cocktail glass.
Nishla used Plymouth gin and Maker's Mark bourbon and extrapolated the measures from the CocktailDB recipe which indicated "parts"*. I used the same amounts but used Gilbey's gin and Old Fitzgerald's 1849 bourbon.

This is a very nice drink. I liked it quite a bit but I'd have liked it even more with only a 1/4 or 1/2 ounce of the Benedictine. It worked for me because I like Benedictine and bourbon together (see The Manhattan Special for an excellent example) but this recipe didn't strike me as particularly well balanced. The Gilbey's is a nice junipery gin (particularly good for the price) and the Old Fitz is eight years old, 90 proof and full-flavored so I don't think the Benedictine's dominance was a matter of using wishy-washy spirits but YMMV.

Another change I made was to shake it instead of stir it. I noticed that the recipe at CocktailDB called for shaking so that's what I did. I'm not sure why shaking was called for but as the only real difference should be the texture I took the easy route.

Thanks to Nishla for pointing this one out. I'll be adapting W.J. Tarling's recipe to my tastes but it's definitely a keeper.

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*I don't understand "parts" recipes that also include a specific amount for one ingredient. It's one thing to say that The Royalist should have two parts gin to one part bourbon and one part Benedictine. This allows the drinkmaker to make as large or small a drink as he wants. He can use 1.5 oz gin like Nishla and I did or he can use 3 oz (or 5 or 10 oz for that matter). It's only important to add half that amount of both bourbon and Benedictine to complete the recipe. But Tarling specifies a single dash of peach bitters.

A single dash was sufficient for the size drink I made but if I had doubled the booze the single dash wouldn't have been enough. So, why not specify how much of each ingredient matches up with that single dash of bitters? Or maybe just indicate "peach bitters to taste"? I dunno but the only course of action is to use what you know about cocktails and go from there.

I assume Nishla decided on 1.5 oz gin because 3 oz of booze plus an ounce or so of melted ice fit her cocktail glass or maybe Nishla figured this cocktail came from a time period when drinks were much smaller than they are now. I can't be sure but it's a fact that in the days before the giant, overpriced, under-chilled Vodka Martini the ingredients added up to around three or
four ounces in most recipes (pre-stir/shake). It's also a fact that peach bitters are very mild compared to Angostura or Peychaud's bitters. I knew that single dash would disappear if I chose to make the Royalist any larger.

Speaking of peach bitters, if you're lucky you can find them at the liquor store or maybe a gourmet grocery store. If not, follow the link above to the Fee Brothers website. I've never ordered from Fee Bros. but I understand their customer service is excellent. Their Old Fashion bitters and orange bitters are well worth having on hand too.

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