Tuesday, January 4, 2011




2 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
1 oz. Amer Picon
1 oz. Triple Sec (I used Cointreau)

Combine all ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist.

~ from "The New York Bartender's Guide", edited by Sally Ann Berk

The New York Bartender's Guide, like many items in my collection of boozeware, was a flea market find. I've mentioned before that many of these come courtesy of my father, who regularly travels the local circuit of flea markets, swap meets and the like, never failing to procure all manner of second-hand cocktail ephemera with a price tag of five dollars or less.

Despite its impeccable provenance, this volume is not one I consult often. (Although it has proven it's merit solely by laying to rest a nagging question concerning the recipe of a drink that was a favorite of my wife's grandmother.) However, as I was paging through it in search of a different recipe, I randomly laid eyes on this little number called the Sanctuary. It caught my attention for two reasons:

1) Absence of a base spirit

2) The realization that even though it has only 3 ingredients, this drink could easily go so terribly, terribly wrong.

The lack of a base spirit wasn't that troubling...it made me more curious than apprehensive, so full steam ahead. My main concern was getting the ingredients right. First off, if the Dubonnet was too old, we'd have a problem. Second, if the Amer was lousy, we'd have a problem. And third, if the recipe calls for triple sec, we have a problem.

Now before anyone accuses me of unreasonable anti-triple sec bias, I just need to say that triple sec is perfectly serviceable in a number of drinks. It's just that in my experience there are a variety of other orange liqueurs that can be used in its place that will yield tastier results. Fortunately, I had a handful of them available in Ye Olde Basement Booze Shelves, so I opted for Cointreau this time around.

It also turned out my bottle of Dubonnet was still OK, so I was two-thirds the way home.

That left the Amer. Again I was lucky, because I had a fresh stash of homemade stuff that my fellow cocktail geek SeanMike of the Scofflaw's Den was kind enough to place in my quivering mitts a few weeks ago. It's great, and as I mentioned earlier, I much prefer it to the commercially-made stuff I've tried.

So I broke out the shaker and gave it a go. It's startlingly good, with an overall "vintagey" character that somehow manages both depth and lightness. Also, it's a darn pretty brownish/crimson color that makes you want to dust off your thrift-store coupes* and let the light hit it.

So my advice concerning flea-market cocktail guides is this: If you run across something that looks like it may only have limited potential, consider picking it up anyway. I once heard someone say that even if you only get one good recipe out of a cookbook, the book was worth having. Even if I never find another decent recipe in The New York Bartender's Guide again, I'm still glad I gave it sanctuary on my shelf.

*Everyone buys their fancy glassware in thrift stores, right?


Dagreb said...

Thrift stores are the only place to buy coupes. Especially if you want fewer than 36!

Dr. Bamboo said...

Dagreb: True! And since they come in at around 25-50 cents apiece (at least around here, you really can't complain about the price.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Tried this. Quite nice. Always looking for a use for Dubonnet.

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