I stumbled over this week’s beverage in Gary Regan’s “The Joy of Mixology,” but it’s original source is the oft-cited-here “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock. Since Craddock was the bartender at London’s Savoy Hotel, and the Claridge had been the Savoy’s super-swank rival before Savoy owner Richard D’Oyly-Carte had purchased it, we can assume it must have once been some kind of house drink at the hotel. Even so, it’s not on the Claridge’s bar menu circa 2017, where a typical house beverage will run you some 19 British pounds. (That’s over $23.34 American at current exchange rates.)
Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised, as this drink is a bit simple and sweet for the tastes of today’s demanding cocktailians, much less the guests at a five-star hotel said to be preferred by the aristocratic set. Still, I think it’s one that’s worth trying out for yourself. It’s not bad and some people will love it. See what you think.
The Claridge Cocktail
1 ounce dry gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce apricot brandy
1/2 ounce triple sec, Cointreau, or Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass and either shake or stir, whichever you prefer, with plenty of ice, of course. Strain into a good sized cocktail glass, well chilled. Sip and contemplate the priceless allure of a really good drink (whether or not you think this one qualifies).
I admit to having somewhat mixed feelings about the Claridge Cocktail. It may be partly that, when it comes right down to it, I’m not a particularly big fan of the kind of inexpensive and sort of “meh” apricot brandy that we’re mostly kind of stuck with — though I’m aware far better products probably exist. (See the great Savoy Stomp blog‘s take.) But really, no matter what I did with this drink, it was just a little bit too sweet for my personal taste. That being said, my in-house guinea pretty much loved every version I worked up.
And there were several. My gins were both stirred and shaken and comprised of the last of my enormous Bombay Dry bottle and a normal sized fifth of Prairie Gin, which is American made and certified organic. My orange liqueurs were Cointreau, DeKuyper, Bols and cocktailian-approved Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao. Since I’ve yet to really figure out exactly what the difference is between a triple sec and a curacao anyway, I gave it a shot, and that was probably the best version. Not really worth $23-plus American, but not really that bad either.