I’ve been hearing plenty of talk lately about which prohibition and pre-prohibition cocktails are currently being celebrated on menus across the country. Most often cited are the Last Word, Aviation, Bees Knees, and the French 75 (which you can find in its originality and in variations such as the ’76, ’79, etc., etc., in pretty much every good cocktail joint in every major city). As someone who is relatively new to the scene, even I know that the inclusion of any of these drinks on a menu stands as a indicator that you’re in a nouveau cocktail bar that is worth its snuff. Yet many of these drinks have already become passe to the people ‘in the know.’
I suppose that explains the tendency for mixologists and bartenders to go forth and create new and complicated cocktails that fly in the face of tradition. I agree that there’s a time and place for that, but I’d also like to see bars staying true to the tricks that worked in the beginning, and getting a little more creative in what drinks they decide to revive from the dusty pages of cocktail books.
Ted Haigh released one of the best books of 2010, Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits, which is a virtual road map to obscure drinks just primed to spring back into popularity. Personally, I have found that most of the drinks in this vintage-seekers bible are pretty stiff and not exactly, well, good. I’ve also noticed that Mr. Haigh has a tendency to go strong on his recipe adaptations, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Let’s strive for well-balanced, shall we? Regardless of my personal opinions concerning the author, and the way he mixes his drinks, the book is a great guide to discovering new old cocktails, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen more of the drinks he unearthed on the pages of new cocktail menus.
Personally, I would like to see the Twelve Mile Limit see a comeback. I always get really excited about cocktails that feature several different base spirits, because to the untrained ear, you’d think it would taste pretty terrible. More often than not, they bring out nuances in each of the spirits and blend together in a graceful way to create a new and interesting flavor.
Twelve Mile Limit
1 oz. White rum
½ oz. Rye whiskey
½ oz. Brandy
½ oz. Grenadine
½ oz. Lemon Juice
Recipe out of Ted Haigh’s Vintage Cocktails and Forgotten Spirits