Drink of the Week: The Waldorf Gloom Lifter

The Waldorf Gloom Lifter.Last week found me possibly a dollar short and definitely a day late for St. Patrick’s Day, but at least the drink was good. The Gloom Lifter was essentially a whiskey sour with egg white, made with Irish whiskey rather than the more cocktail-typical North American varieties. Now, we have the Gloom Lifter’s more upscale cousin, the Waldorf Gloom Lifter, which is essentially a Clover Club with Irish whiskey and a bit of brandy standing in for gin.

If you want to find the original source of today’s drink, you’ll have to pick up a copy of “The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book,” a book dating back to the pre-Prohibition era which┬áI don’t currently own. The recipe, however, is floating around the Internet in a number of iterations, now including this one.

If you found the Gloom Lifter a bit on the dry/overly simple side, this is a drink for you. It’s also a drink I’m willing to bet you might have a hard time getting at today’s historic and pricey Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, as it’s not on any of their online menus. If you did, it would likely cost you about $20.00, plus tip. Lucky us, you can make this one at home for probably less than a buck and enjoy a bit of bygone elegance on the cheap.

The Waldorf Gloom Lifter

1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 egg white (1 ounce of packaged egg white)
1/2 ounce grenadine or raspberry syrup

This one has egg white again, so the drill is pretty much the same as always. Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice for the so-called dry shake. Watch out for the interesting chemical reaction which can cause the top of your shaker to pop off. In any case, if you’re going the safe route and using a pasteurized, packaged egg white — and I’ll note that I haven’t noticed any decline in the quality of the final product whatsoever while doing this — you won’t have to shake it for more than a few seconds for the egg white to be fully emulsified.

Next, add plenty of ice and shake again, vigorously as always, and strain it into one of your larger cocktail glasses. This is a big drink that needs a big glass.

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Before we move on to the various boozes, probably the most important choice you’ll make here is whether to use grenadine or raspberry syrup. While these two syrups are often used somewhat interchangeably, they make a very noticeable difference in the taste and appearance of your drink. At least with the brand of grenadine I’m currently using (Sonoma Syrup Co.), you end up with a lovely sweet flavor but not much in the way of coloration. The result was a slightly dull looking off-white drink that was nevertheless very nicely balanced between tart and sweet flavors. Torani raspberry syrup lends it a more attractive pinkish hue (at least if you’re not thinking about Pepto-Bismol), but it also brings out more tart flavors that blend with the lemon juice in ways I had ever-so-slightly mixed feelings about. The third option here would be the kind of raspberry syrup Smucker’s markets, if you can find it. (It’s disappeared from San Fernando Valley area markets of late. I have no idea if this is a regional or national phenomenon.)

Moving on to the booze, there was a subtle difference between my bottles of Jameson and Kilbeggan, with the greater astringency of Kilbeggan creating a slightly sweeter and more balanced taste when combined with grenadine (not the raspberry syrup), but both worked just fine. As for the brandy, you’ll probably get better results when you use a better (and pricier) brand, but you don’t want to make the same mistake I did at one point and forget to use any at all. The brandy-less Waldorf Gloom Lifter tasted thin and failed to lift my gloom.