Sometimes funny things happen in the land of drinks that make you think funny. In this case it was a very offhand Facebook remark in which I, in a fit of hubris, implied that I would come up with a proper cocktail which would for some reason be called “Dayquil.”
My remark — respectively addressing and encouraged by two of the most legendary names in all of cinephile blogdem, i.e., Dennis Cozzalio and Odie “Odienator” Henderson — at first seemed amusing but ill-considered. For one thing, I personally strongly discourage the use of actual Dayquil for people who drink with any regularity or who happen to be drinking the day of. This is because, like many modern OTC pharmaceuticals, it contains acetaminophen (Tylenol), a much too ubiquitous pain reliever associated with literally thousands of deaths because of its toxicity to the liver under a number of circumstances, including shockingly small overdoses and especially when taken in combination with alcohol or by heavy drinkers. (Note: This is NOT a particularly controversial statement, as shocking as it is. It is absolutely for real. Here’s the scoop. It was also covered on a 2013 episode of This American Life.)
That aside, I also had no idea what would be in my non-Dayquil Dayquil.
Fate stepped in when I found a recipe for a classic cocktail, the Gin Daisy, in Robert Hess’s The Essential Bartender’s Guide. I didn’t read it closely, so I missed some details regarding the preparation of the beverage. I also hadn’t realized that Hess’s Daisy is actually a greatly simplified version of a very old school mixed drink dating back to the mid-19th century.
Then, a funny thing happened. I found I liked my severely mutated Daisy, and I definitely liked it better than Hess’s already vastly simplified version. I also realized that the combination of gin, fresh lemon juice, and grenadine looked just reddish enough to remind us of that daytime cold medicine I just suggested you avoid. Also, it would give me the opportunity to trick you into reading the public service announcement above.
Mission accomplished. Now, here’s the drink…
The Safer Dayquil (use only as directed!)
2.5 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce grenadine
1 lemon twist (important garnish)
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the lemon twist. Be sure to do the classic cocktail thing and run the shiny side of the lemon peel around the rim of the glass before tossing it in, it seems to help this one kind of a lot. Sip and give a small toast to your liver; it needs all the support it can get, and as little acetaminophen as possible.
Given the large amount of gin, and the fact that many gins are over 90 proof, this is a pretty potent drink that will give your liver a real run for its money all on it’s own. It’s nevertheless a drink that nicely balances boozy, sweet, and tart tastes.
I had the greatest success using that free bottle of super-high-end Nolet’s Dry Gin featured here last week. The fruitier, low-juniper flavor complements the lemon and grenadine of the Safer Dayquil very nicely. Tanqueray worked almost as well. If you want a less ultra-potent drink, I can also recommend 80 proof and value-priced Gordon’s Gin for this one. Just lay off the real Dayquil.