Recipe: Cocktails from 'The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual'
Making cocktails from The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual has the same allure as going back in time to the 19th century when most of its recipes originated. It sounds romantic, until you consider the realities of the situation. Do you enjoy reliable electricity and paved roads? Would you like to make more than a dozen tinctures before even getting started on a cocktail?
Like history, this book is just for reading, and it does make a great read. Each original recipe is led by a fascinating introduction on the history of the cocktail that inspired it. The drink I chose, Whiskey Smash à la Terrington, was inspired by the 1869 book Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks. As delightful as that sounds, I have never complained more (recently) than while making this drink. I’d like to say I chose it because the cocktail sounded fresh, balanced and delightfully seasonal – which is was. Instead, I chose this recipe because it required me to buy only two bottles of booze, instead of the 57 every other recipe demanded.
It’s probably the best cocktail I have ever made – but it took three damn days to make. First, I had make a tansy tincture. I had no idea what tansy was, but luckily Cheryl’s Herbs in Maplewood did. So, I infused Everclear and water with the dried herb for three days and had my tincture. Next, I had to make lemon sherbet. No, not the easily accessible frozen treat. Lemon sherbet is an intense syrup made with lemon juice and oleo-saccharum. (Again: what?) Oleo-saccharum is basically citrus zest muddled in sugar and allowed to sit until the oils release. The oleo-saccharum took half an hour, as did the sherbet, which then had to cool. This is a drink that will make you drink.
After the sherbet was cool, the cocktail came together like any other. Measure, pour, shake, strain, garnish, sip – one of the best cocktails I’ve ever made. Complex but balanced, fresh but rich, and it had the smooth, viscous texture of a professional cocktail It’s a drink that should be made by professionals who presumably have large batches of sherbets and tinctures at their disposal.
Skill level: Professional. The instructions are good, but the ingredients aren’t at all reasonable for a home bar.
This book is for: Professionals or a those interested in a cocktail education.
Other recipes to try: Champagne à la Fouquet
The verdict: This book is interesting and impressive, but if you want recipes you can actually make, Cuban Cocktails is a better option.
Whiskey Smash À La Terrington
3 dashes Tansy Tincture (recipe follows)
¾ oz. Lemon Sherbet (recipe follows)
6 to 8 fresh mint leaves
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
2½ oz. Bulleit Rye Whiskey
Fresh nutmeg, grated, for garnish
• Add all the ingredients, except the garnish, to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a punch glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
1 oz. dried tansy*
4½ oz. Everclear
4½ oz. water
• Combine the tansy and Everclear in a jar. Allow to macerate for 3 days, then strain though a chinois into a fresh container. Due to the alcohol content, this tincture should last indefinitely at room temperature.
1½ cups granulated sugar
12 oz. fresh lemon juice
• Prepare an oleo-saccharum (recipe follows) with the lemon peels and sugar.
• In a small saucepan, combine the oleo-saccharum and lemon juice over medium heat, but do not boil. Slowly stir to dissolve the sugar. When the syrup has thickened, remove from the heat. Strain through a chinois into bottles. The sherbet will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
• Peel each lime, being sure to remove only the peel, with none of the white pith. A Microplane grater or vegetable peeler is best.
• Add the peels to a bowl, along with the sugar. Using a muddler or heavy wooden spoon, press the peels into the sugar. You will see oil from the peels collect in the bowl. Let the combination sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Mix to collect all separated oils into the sugar before using.
• You may use the peeled limes for juicing as needed in the recipe above.
*Tansy is available at Cheryl’s Herbs.
Reprinted with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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