Drink of the Week: Barbary Coast or Bishop

Barbary Coast or Biship.If my first selection of 2017 sounds to you like it should have a question mark after it’s name, you’re not far off. This drink is another selection from David Embury’s cocktail masterwork, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” and the sometimes cranky ur-cocktailian apparently wasn’t sure of the correct name, as he simply called it “Barbary Coast or Bishop.” Indeed, in a footnote he refers to a much better known and sweeter concoction called “The Barbary Coast,” a relative of last week’s Brandy Alexander. There is also a drink out there called “The Bishop,” though I think this drink name refers to the Southern California high desert town, and the other one refers to a cleric.

Still, this indecisively named drink isn’t bad at all. It’s a very moderately sweet blend of classic cocktail ingredients that comes together reasonably well. Not what I’d personally call a home run, but it’s worth a try if you dig the ingredients. Let’s get started.

Barbary Coast or Bishop

2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1 dash Yellow Chartreuse
1 orange twist (desirable garnish)

Combine the various liquids in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the orange twist and ponder whether you’d rather spend time in the notorious Wild West-era San Francisco red light district and gambling center, or the sleepy, modern day desert town of Bishop


I worked up this drink during the later holiday period — a time during which I’ll often take a break from this gig and keep my drinking extra-curricular — so I mainly just had time to try this one with Canadian Club’s new 100% rye and Corner Creek Bourbon, a particular favorite of mine. I leaned towards the sweeter, smoother bourbon for this one, which seems to make for a slightly friendlier combo. I also tried this with both Carpano Antica and Martini sweet vermouth. Both were good but, as usual, the pricier and more complex Carpano won the day. Since all Chartreuse is made by Carthusian monks, there’s not a whole lot of choice there.

Honestly, I don’t have a whole lot much more to say about this one. It’s a fine drink, nothing more. Still, that’s really all it needs to be.