The Must-Drink Cocktail of Summer 1901
This October, The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual will hit shelves. Written by Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, the comprehensive book includes recipes for many of the bar’s best drinks as well as the stories behind them. October is still a long way off, so here’s an excerpt from the book to tide you over.
One of F&W’s favorite bars, The Dead Rabbit, has been an NYC destination for cocktail- and beer-lovers alike since it opened its doors in 2013. Owned by legendary UK bartenders Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, the multilevel bar features an old-school taproom downstairs and a cocktail lounge upstairs where classic punches and obsessively researched old-school flips, fizzes, slings, juleps and more reign supreme. Now, those cocktails will be immortalized in what is sure to be the next must-have cocktail book.
This October, The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual will hit shelves. Written by Muldoon and McGarry, the comprehensive book includes recipes for many of the bar’s best drinks (including the legendary Irish coffee) as well as the stories behind them. October is still a long way off, so here’s an excerpt from the book to tide you over. It’s the story of a sensationalized summer cocktail from 1901 called the Florodora—plus, the recipe so you can try the spritzy, fruity, gin-based cocktail at home.
Inspiration: “Here Is the Latest Drink Inspired by a Chorus Girl,” The Evening World (New York), July 2, 1901, p. 1
And now, another entry from our favorite category: cocktails whose creation was covered by the daily press. We long for the era in which the headline “Here Is the Latest Drink Inspired by a Chorus Girl” belonged proudly on the front page of a newspaper. (To our fellow cocktail chroniclers, how about a book of all the drinks inspired by chorus girls?)
The recipe for this variation of a Gin Buck (a basic gin and ginger ale) was accorded front-page status perhaps for its cooling properties. In the first week of July 1901, New York was in the middle of a record heat wave, and the front page was given over to all aspects of this crisis. Above the recipe, The Evening World kept track of the mounting deaths in a column of figures adding up to 260 in one week. Nothing to make light of, yet still the recipe offered its respite.
Related: 4th of July Drinks
The chorus girl in question was from the hit show Florodora, a bit of frippery whose fame owed much to that girl and her cohorts—the “Florodora girls” as they became known, a term which still echoes in our cultural hallways, however faintly. As The Evening World notes, a crowd of actors went to a bar, among them a Florodora maiden. While everyone enjoyed spirited beverages, the maiden demurred, saying she had had them all before.
The barman, “Jimmy O’Brien, the head inventor of drinks, was called. He thought until the noise of his thinking drowned the electric fans.” The result was the Florodora. For this reconfiguration, our head inventor of drinks contributed more herbs, more spice, and more bitters, and adjusted the air conditioning while he did it. More, more, more, like the audiences screamed at the end of Florodora’s final act.
In Imbibe!, David Wondrich muses, “Alas, the article was silent as to which of the pretty maidens it was”—but he need dream in vain no longer. Humbled as we are at the rare opportunity to scoop Wondrich, we must direct him to The Evening World of July 3, 1901, page 3, which offers a poem memorializing the “Girl and the New Summer Drink Made in Her Honor: Miss Drake Was the First to Partake of ‘The Florodora.’” A sample:
Oh, siren of the summer drinks!
A pale rose in the shattered ice
Glows like the cheek of that sweet minx
Who names this drink of paradise.Of raspberries their syrup soul
From tender fruit most tender nursed,
And fragrant limes that reach the goal
And make a blessing of a thirst.
Oh, don’t forget the Plymouth gin
That makes of water merry jest—
Its pale and weak and soulless twin That never stirred my lady’s breast.
That sort of thing goes on for a few more stanzas before the payoff:
To you, sweet “Florodora” maid,
Who caused this summer blessing’s make,
I drink the tipple in the shade
And bless you for it, Susie Drake.
Thank you, Susie Drake, for your commitment to inspiring barmen and newspapermen alike.
2 ounces Hibiscus-Infused Tanqueray London Dry Gin (see below)
3/4 ounce Ginger Syrup (see below)
1/2 ounce Merlet Crème de Framboise
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
3 dashes Bittermens Burlesque Bitters
2 ounces Blenheim Ginger Ale
Fresh nutmeg, grated, for garnish
Add all the ingredients, except the ginger ale and garnish, to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake. Add the ginger ale to the shaker and strain the mixture into an ice-filled tall glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Hibiscus-Infused Tanqueray London Dry Gin
Yields about 750 ml
1 bag hibiscus tea
750 ml bottle Tanqueray London Dry Gin
1. Place the tea bag in a quart canning jar. Fill the jar with the gin and seal it shut.
2. After 1 hour, remove the tea bag. Due to the alcohol content, this infusion should last indefinitely at room temperature.
Yields about 750 ml
12 ounces ginger root
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
1. Chop the ginger into small pieces and feed them into an automatic juicer. Strain the ginger juice through a chinois to remove the pulp.
2. Add the ginger juice, sugar, and water to a large saucepan over medium heat, but do not boil. Slowly stir until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Use a funnel to pour into bottles. The syrup will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Text excerpted from The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual, © 2015 by The Best Bar in the World, LLC. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.