Tonight we finished the last Absinthe recipe on the first page of Mr. Boston’s 1935 edition.
Having enjoyed Absinthe since its reappearance to the US in the early 2000’s, Ryan and I usually stick to the traditional style of drinking Absinthe. I was surprised and delighted to see so many different recipes for Absinthe in this cocktail book!
Yet there is something puzzling about having so many Absinthe cocktails listed in a book published during Absinthe’s ban from the United States…
Because of wild tales of hallucinations, the green fairy hadn’t been available in the United States for 23 years when this book was first published. By the 63rd edition many of the Absinthe drinks from the first issue were removed. Those that remained note the use of Anise rather than Absinthe. Toward the back of the book under the “Liqueurs” section, Absinthe is described as “being banned in the United States and virtually everywhere else.”
All of this got me wondering… if Absinthe was banned why was it developed into so many cocktails during 1935? How old were these cocktails to begin with? And, if this book was a marketing tool, did Mr. Boston’s produce an Absinthe?
Of course I turned to Google and tried to dig around for the answers. Unfortunately, the best I could muster was that Mr. Boston’s didn’t appear to make Absinthe. Beyond that I got nothing. More investigation to do!
Back to the cocktail…
The recipes in Mr. Boston’s are alphabetical so naturally Absinthe was near the front. In total four of the five recipes on the first page contain Absinthe. The final is called The Absinthe Special Cocktail.
Honestly, I didn’t really find this cocktail to be “special” per se. Despite the addition of bitters it is rather similar to the Absinthe Cocktail Drip. It was delicious none the less but, I still think the gum syrup added something spectacular to the mix in the plain old Absinthe Cocktail. Maybe those names should be switched.
As much as we love our Absinthe, we were excited to move onto new horizons. The first non-Absinthe based cocktail called for equal parts French and Italian Vermouth. No further explanation is given. Google to the rescue again!
Apparently, French Vermouth is known for it’s dry varietal though Sweet French Vermouth’s are also available. Italian Vermouth’s are known more for their sweet variety so by deduction Ryan and I decided the Addington Highball needed a dry French Vermouth and sweet Italian Vermouth.
Surprisingly, this cocktail was removed in the later version of Mr. Boston’s but the 63rd edition notes dry and sweet verses French and Italian in other Vermouth recipes so I think we are on the right track.
We happened upon Dolin’s Dry Vermouth prior to this experiment and really enjoyed it over Martini & Rossi’s version. Maybe there is something to this Italian verses French flavor profile theory after all. The funny thing is that having liked Dolin’s Dry we purchased a bottle of their Sweet. Low and behold we didn’t enjoy it as much as Martini & Rossi’s, go figure!
Having two French Vermouth’s but no Italian in the house we made the 30 minute trek to Total Wine for supplies. (They are going to LOVE us after this!) To our delight they had a representative tasting a selection of Whiskey and who can turn that down, right?
Among the Bourbon and Rye, the bartender whipped up a sample Manhattan Cocktail. It was delicious so I asked him what Vermouth he used. As if serendipitous, the Antica Formula Carpano Vermouth he was using was both sweet and Italian. Mission Accomplished!
The Addington Highball is a very light, refreshing cocktail. The wine based Vermouth’s mixed with cold seltzer water and an Orange peel would be a great picnicking cocktail on a warm Spring afternoon. At 2% ABV the finished drink might as well be considered a mocktail by todays drinking standards but it was delightful just the same.
When next we meet the Vermouth continues to flow… Cheers!