Morning Glory Fizz

First, just a reminder that Sunday, July 31, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Morning Glory Fizz
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon or 1 Lime. (Juice 1/2 Lemon, Juice 1/2 Lime)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (1 heaping teaspoon caster sugar)
The White of 1 Egg.
2 Dashes Absinthe (2 dash Absinthe Verte)
1 Glass Scotch Whisky (2 oz Highland Park 8, Gordon & MacPhail)
Shake well, strain into long tumbler and fill with syphon soda water.

The Morning Glory Fizz, (unrelated to the Morning Glory Cocktail,) is another Savoy Fizz from Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”.
Interestingly, Ensslin gives the recipe as:

Juice of ½ Lime; Juice of ½ Lemon; 1 teasponful Powdered Sugar; White of 1 Egg; 2 dashes Absinthe; 1 drink Scotch Whiskey. Made and served as directed for Plain Gin Fizz.

While Ensslin suggests the juice of half a lemon and half a lime, the Savoy Cocktail Book suggests you choose between them, significantly altering the sweet/sour balance. I chose to follow Hugo Ensslin’s advice and found the results pleasant. Whether you will agree, I guess depends on where you fall on the whole, “not too sweet spectrum”.

As a drink maker, you have complete control over the level of sweetness in the drinks you make and it’s pretty easy to make the drinks you like. It’s more tricky when you have to figure out what someone else means by, “not too sweet”. I mean, almost no one ever asks for a Sweet Cocktail.

I remember one conversation I had that went something like:

Guest: If I asked you to make something with Baileys, what would you make?

Me: Unfortunately, we don’t have Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Guest: So you couldn’t make a White Russian?

Me: (Thinking: What? there’s no Bailey’s in a White Russian.) We do have cream and Coffee Liqueur, I would be happy to make you something similar to a White Russian.

Guest: Never mind, tell me about your cocktails. I don’t like anything too sweet.

Me: (Thinking: Same person who wants a White Russian with Bailey’s doesn’t like her cocktails too sweet? Does Not Compute.) Do you enjoy ginger flavor in a cocktail? I think you will find this cocktail refreshing and enjoyable.

I made her the Biarritz Monk Buck, a Brandy Cocktail with Lemon, Ginger and Yellow Chartreuse. She enjoyed it enough to thank me for my suggestion when her group was leaving the restaurant.

Ninety percent of the time, the challenge isn’t making the drinks, it’s interpreting from the guest what they really want.

I use the word “interpret” because there’s a lot of jargon around mixed drinks and bartending which I am nominally fluent in, such that it’s practically a dialect of its own, but I can’t really expect guests to understand. “Up”, “Rocks”, “Dry”, “Perfect”, “Sweet”, “Dirty”, etc.

But my idea of a “not too sweet” cocktail is often a long distance from what a guest might mean. If anything, all the cocktails I make, that aren’t after dinner stickies, fall into the category of “not too sweet”. Generally a guest isn’t going to want a cocktail any less sweet than the recipes we make at either place I sometimes tend bar.

But sometimes they do, I’ll make them a standard recipe for their first drink and they’ll say, “Could you make something a little less sweet for the next drink?” We even had one person at Alembic Savoy Nights who would always order a Crow Cocktail: 2/3 Bourbon, 1/3 Lemon, but ask for it without even the dash of Grenadine. Now that’s a Whiskey Sour! But more commmonly, I’ll get “That was good but a little too tart for me, could you make something a little sweeter”.

Either way, it’s not hard to tweak recipes a little this way or that, the hard part is making the guest comfortable enough that they feel like they can ask for what they want. While there are undoubtedly bars and establishments in San Francisco which employ a sort of S&M ethic to their customer relations, it’s not my thing. I would prefer that we all make it to the end of the night a little happier than when we started. No whips, no chains, and minimal scarring.

And, well, unless you are a Scotch Whisky Stickler, a Morning Glory Fizz with Highland Park 8, is a fine start. Think of it as a slightly peaty Rattlesnake, don’t worry about the bite. The cocktail doesn’t, and neither do I.

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