Cocktails, literary, Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails, Uniquity

These Drinks I Had on Crispin’s Day

This is the first drink I’m posting as part of the Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails series; in fact, Sts. Crispin and Crispian (or Crispianus, depending on whom you ask) were among the first saints to inspire said calendar.  Why?  As I wrote on my other blog last year, they’re remembered as much for being mentioned in Henry V as they are for their own sainted lives.

That was something of a guide as I crafted a drink for them.  One could commemorate Crispin and Crispian simply by drinking Crispin Hard Cider, but that seemed lazy.  I spent some time in discussion with my friend Emily to determine what would be appropriate for Crispin’s Feast:

Em: I’m thinking something with anguished cries of dying soldiers, the dirt of hallowed ground, and the dreaded sounds of war horses’ hoofbeats, with a hint of bitter irony
T: Hmmm.  So we’ve got…Fernet Branca…either gin or whiskey…not sure about the hoofbeats, but they may be “garnish with a nail”…and maybe some bitters on top.
Em: And of course you TELL people there’s honor in it, to make them think they taste it, when there’s actually no such honor in it.
T: Haha!  Okay, so I’m going to toss in a bit of grenadine for bloodcoloredness, and see how that all works.  If it’s too much to swallow, I may add some Drambuie.  …admittedly, I think we’re passing over Crispin and Crispian in favor of battles fought on their vigil feast, which is different.  Hmmm.  …
Em: Hmmmm.
T:  Whiskey, Fernet, bitters, grenadine, and a nail still sound legit for Crispin and Crispian, I think.

So with all that in mind, I went to work.  As I gathered my bottles, I remembered having sweet vermouth in the fridge, which seemed more appropriate than grenadine, so I added it with the Fernet Branca to three different spirits: cognac, Irish whiskey, and Scotch.  Unsurprisingly, the cognac melded best with the vermouth and the minty Fernet.  Should you find yourself without Fernet Branca, sub in Jägermeister.

[I mixed half an ounce of cognac with a teaspoon each of Fernet and vermouth, so as to not waste my spirits or get utterly sloshed whilst testing]

Having tested it, I then compared the nascent drink with other combinations: cognac/Fernet/vermouth with a dash of applejack, and cognac/Fernet/vermouth with Drambuie added.  The applejack wasn’t a distressing addition, but it wasn’t very helpful either; the Drambuie simply stomped over all the other flavors.

Having concluded that the mini-drink had the proper proportions, I set out to make a full-sized version.  I opted to add ice rather than shake, stir, or leave it neat, and added the promised nail by spearing some lemon slices.  Unfortunately, while this made for a neat visual, it destroyed both the aroma and the flavor of the original beverage: the lemon smell overpowered the other scents, and the ice melted alarmingly quickly so as to water the whole thing down.

So then came the final proof: a chilled glass meant for a smaller amount (4-5 oz) of liquid, with the following stirred with ice in a shaker then strained into it:

1.5 oz cognac
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.75 oz sweet vermouth

Just the thing for both sainted cobblers and soldiers at Agincourt.


Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.

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literary, Uniquity

Carolingian Effort

…so there I was, with a bottle of Campari and no idea what to do with it other than “avoid drinking two ounces in the same day, much less the same drink, ever again.”

Therefore, using the time-honored culinary tradition of throwing an odd flavor in with That Which Is In the Fridge and Cupboard, I made up a drink:


1 ½ oz gin (Tanqueray or Plymouth in my house)
¾ oz ginger syrup
1 tsp Campari
Dash Angostura bitters

You will notice that there was no citrus in the fridge, which is sort of unfortunate.  However, we had a bunch of ginger going unused.  Instead of waiting for it to collapse into a distressing dry lump, I grated it up, boiled it with equal amounts water and sugar, then cooled, strained, and bottled it.

[Cats: bringing verisimilitude to the home bar and delight to the internet since 1998.]

It hit the tongue sweetly, but the grapefruit-like nuances of the Campari unfold as it is swallowed (in the passive voice), and then there’s a bit of a warm ginger finish (unless you let the ginger syrup age, in which case there is a spicy finish; it seems to grow sharper somehow).  It’s something like a digestif cocktail…which is a bit fun, but what to call it?  La Roommate (hereinafter LR) suggested calling it a Muchness or perhaps a Bandersnatch, but I replied that I would save such Carroll-ish things – such Carolingian efforts – for something involving absinthe at the very least, and perhaps less savory possibilities.

…and then that stuck, so there you go.  Since one of the ingredients of “The Jabberwock” is defunct, this is clearly the best backup for drinking whilst reading Through the Looking Glass.