Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, and you’ll probably want a drink. If you’re lucky in love, and perhaps have recently tied the knot with that special someone, today’s truly old school classic cocktail might not be the worst way to celebrate the fact. And if, like so many of us, Cupid’s arrow has had more than a bit of a sting to it, it’s pretty much guaranteed to take the edge off.
The Honeymoon Cocktail recipe appears in numerous places, but I’m pretty much taking my recipe entirely from Ted Haigh’s “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.” As the legendary Dr. Cocktail notes, it dates back to around 1917 and eventually became a favorite at the Brown Derby restaurants that were among the go-to nightspots of Hollywood’s mid-century heyday. It definitely has a bit of show biz panache to it, while being a relatively simple drink to make. The main question here seems to be whether you prefer the American or French version of its base spirit.
The Honeymoon Cocktail
2 ounces apple brandy (American apple brandy or calvados)
1/2 ounce Benedictine
1/2 ounce orange curacao or Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 lemon twist (garnish)
Combine the liquids in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake, lovingly but vigorously, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the lemon twist if you want. And remember, if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. Even if that’s just the reflection in the mirror.
The more I stuck to Ted Haigh’s recipe, which specifically calls for calvados over the usual Laird’s Straight Brandy, the better luck I had with this one. Calvados Coquerel’s somewhat drier flavor allowed for a more balanced drink and for some very interesting apple-derived flavor notes to break through the mellow hazelnut sweetness of Benedictine. Oddly enough, I also had better luck with the sweet and inexpensive Hiram Walker orange curacao than with the pricier, more complex Grand Marnier. It just blended better with the other ingredients.
What’s interesting is that I typically prefer Grand Marnier over curacao and, even more so, American apple brandy over calvados. Or at least I did. Now I’m kind of falling for calvados, especially. Ain’t love strange?