Nick’s Own Cocktail

Nick's Own

Nick’s Own Cocktail.

1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1 Dash Absinthe.  (Verte de Fougerolles)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 oz Dolin Rouge)
1/2 Brandy. (1 oz Cognac Dudognon)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass Add cherry and squeeze lemon peel on top.

Robert Vermeire, in his “Cocktails: How to Mix them” tells us this is a, “Recipe by A. Nicholls, London, 1922.”

A very enjoyable cocktail, and the first cocktail I’ve found where Dolin Rouge is a clear winner as a sweet vermouth.

Also the one of the first uses of the Dudognon Cognac in the Savoy Stomp. There’s a bit of a story there.

I was called for my annual Jury Service last fall. Fortunately after about 2 days of dithering they released the lucky few unselected jurors and let us go home. It was about 3 in the afternoon and I was downtown. A beautiful and unusually hot San Francisco day. I thought to myself, “Self, I could use a Pimm’s Cup after all that!”

So I headed down to the source for the best Pimm’s Cups in the world, The Slanted Door. No, I’m not biased at all. Anyway, after availing myself of a Pimm’s Cup and maybe another drink or two, a gentleman came in to the bar with a couple bottles of wine, Armagnac, and Calvados for the bar manager to try. Luckily he sat right next to me.

Turned out, it was Charles Neal, of Charles Neal Selections, an importer of some wonderful French products.  We got to talking.  I mentioned my eternal Brandy dilemma asking, “Is there a good brandy at a reasonable price?”  About all I could get out of him was, “You get what you pay for.”

Not willing to let it rest there, I brought up the Cognacs and Armagnacs of a relatively well known commercial firm, saying I didn’t think they were so bad.  I won’t mention the name of the firm or his exact words, but the brand did incite some excited comments from Mr. Neal.  Suffice it to say, he did not think much of the firm’s products and did not hesitate to express himself explicitly.

As the discussion and drinking continued, the bartender ordered us some food saying, “I’m not going to let either of you go home to your families, having drunk so much on an empty stomach.”  The food was, as usual, quite tasty.  If the spot prawns are still on the menu, order them!

As I was heading out, the bartender handed me a worn copy of Mr. Neal’s book, “Armagnac: The definitive Guide to France’s Premier Brandy,”  perhaps, so I would be better prepared the next time we met.  Mr. Neal and I exchanged good byes, parted in good spirits, and went home to make dinner for our families.

Reading Mr. Neal’s Book, I really started to understand more of his perspective.  How so many of the small distillers and growers of Cognac and Armagnac have fallen out of fashion, out of style, or been squeezed out of business.  Not to mention how important it is to support the people who make or import a product you can truly respect.

After my interrogation, I figured I at least owed it to Mr. Neal to try one of his Cognacs, especially since he struck me as someone whose point of view I could respect.

So here we are, making a cocktail with the Dudognon Cognac he imports.  It certainly is not cheap, but neither is it much more expensive than most other decent Cognacs.

To get back to the Dolin Rouge, I find it is a lighter not so sweet vermouth, so it doesn’t do much to obscure the spirit in the cocktail.  One of the distributors recently went so far as to say, “A Manhattan with Carpano Antica is a Vermouth Cocktail.  A Manhattan with Dolin Sweet is a Whiskey Cocktail.”  That sounds a bit too much like they had been drinking the Haus Alpenz “Kool-Aid”, but it is a fair point.

In this case, the Dolin Rouge does just provides just some small accent, allowing the Dudognon Cognac to be the star of the drink.

Which is a very good thing.

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.