Fancy Cocktail

Fancy Cocktail
(6 People)
Pour into the shaker 5 glasses of Cognac and a dessertspoonful of Angostura Bitters. Shake thoroughly and serve, adding a little champagne and a piece of lemon-rind after having rubbed the edges of the glasses with lemon syrup.

I usually make this cocktail, something like this:

Fancy Cocktail for one

Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with a slice of lemon. Frost the edge with superfine or caster sugar. Pour into the shaker 2 oz Cognac and a generous dash of Angostura Bitters. Stir with cracked ice until well chilled, and strain into the frosted glass. Top up with a bit of champagne, squeeze a piece of lemon peel over the glass and drop it in.

Cocktail disambiguation via David Wondrich’s “Imbibe!

In Mr. Wondrich’s book, he divides the types of “cocktail” into the following categories, “Original”, “Plain”, “Fancy”, “Improved”, and “Old-Fashioned”.

“Original Cocktail”, is ye olde bittered sling, specification of spirits, bitters, sugar, and water. Nutmeg optional.

“Plain Cocktail” is Gum syrup, bitters, spirits, and curacao served on the rocks with a twist of lemon.

“Fancy Cocktail” is Gum syrup, bitters, spirits, and curacao, stirred with ice, and strained into another glass and garnished with a twist of lemon.

“Improved Cocktail” is Gum syrup, bitters, spirits, maraschino liqueur, absinthe, stirred with ice, strained into another glass and garnished with a twist of lemon.

And “Old-fashioned Cocktail” is the “original” served with rocks instead of water and a lemon twist instead of nutmeg.

Anyway, he notes the “Fancy” category sometimes included a frosted rim, a la Crusta, or a top up of champanski. Hey, who would argue? Though, I wonder what sort of individual would say, “Excuse me barkeep, believe I will have a fancy brandy cocktail, thank you!”

As the “Savoy Cocktail Book” seems to have the most bad luck transcribing these pre-prohibition of cocktails, (see the Savoy “Coffee Cocktail” and “Brandy Crusta” for other poorly transcribed examples,) their “Fancy Cocktail” recipe makes almost no sense. I mean, how can you “rub the edges of a glass with lemon syrup”? Just sounds really messy to me. They have also decided to solidify on Cognac and leave out the Curacao. No tremendous loss there.

I’ve sort of gone with the Chicago method for the “Fancy Cocktail” and left it at that.

I like the “Chicago Cocktail” and I like the “Fancy Cocktail.” Guess that makes me some sort of flannel wearing dandy. Woo!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

4 thoughts on “Fancy Cocktail

  1. I am so glad you wrote this. I have been wondering if I was insane to think that the so-called Improved Holland Gin Cocktails served at the Bols launch (and in their Wondrich-blessed recipe book) were actually not-so-improved, given their lack of maraschino, but hadn’t gotten down to the research. Now I can just link over here :D

  2. Chuckle, I’m sure it had nothing to do with using Bols Orange Curacao instead of Luxardo Maraschino!

    But, you know, Mr. Wondrich pulls his example from a bunch of different books. It isn’t at all uncommon for recipes from that period to say, “1 or 2 dashes of Maraschino or Curacao”.

    For example, Jerry Thomas’ Manhattan:

    Manhattan Cocktail.
    (Use small bar-glass.)
    Take 2 dashes of Curacoa or Maraschino.
    1 pony of rye whiskey.
    1 wine-glass of vermouth.
    3 dashes of Boker’s bitters.
    2 small lumps of ice.

    Shake up well, and strain into a claret glass. Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass and serve. If the customer prefers it very sweet use also two dashes of gum syrup.

  3. yes, but, it’s still a Fancy by Wondrich’s lexicon rather than an Improved. And I can’t find any period recipes for an Improved gin cocktail that don’t include at least maraschino; some omit the absinthe, but even those are not common.

    The drinks in the booklet are ‘from the Jerry Thomas era’, but Thomas includes both absinthe and maraschino in his Improved:

    Improved Gin Cocktail.
    Made the same way as the Improved Brandy Cocktail
    substituting Holland or Old Tom gin for the

    Improved Brandy Cocktail
    (Use ordinary bar-glass.)
    Take 2 dashes Boker’s (or Angostura) Bitters.
    3 dashes gum syrup.
    2 dashes Maraschino.
    1 dash Absinthe.
    1 small piece of the yellow rind of a lemon,
    twisted to express the oil.
    1 small wine-glass of brandy.

    Fill glass one-third full of shaved ice, shake well, and strain into a fancy cocktail glass, put the lemon
    peel in the glass and serve. The flavor is improved by moistening the edge of the cocktail glass with a piece of lemon.

    The recipe in the Bols booklet is in line with Thomas’s plain version:

    Gin Cocktail.
    (Use small bar-glass.)
    Take 3 or 4 dashes of gum syrup.
    2 dashes of bitters (Boker’s).
    1 wine-glass of Holland gin.
    1 or 2 dashes of Curacoa

    Fill the glass one-third full of shaved ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a small piece of lemon peel, place it in the glass, and serve.

    not that I am a nitpicker, no sir. :D

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