Monday, November 22, 2010

MxMo LII: Forgotten Cocktails...OF DEATH.

Good morning, campers! Time to rise and shine,'s Mixology Monday! This time, you get two cocktails for the price of one. This month's theme is "forgotten cocktails", with your host Rock and Rye, and both of my forgotten cocktails have these things in common:

1. Ernest Hemingway
2. The "hair of the dog"

That's right. Cocktails that will help you get over a hangover...or maybe just kill you.

Ernest Hemingway as a young hottie.

Ernest Hemingway was a talented and troubled American writer who apparently had a bit of a penchant for drinking. He was known to embark on "alcoholic sprees" with James Joyce, and he gave himself a scar on his forehead by pulling a skylight onto his head in the bathroom of his paris apartment, mistakenly thinking he was pulling on the toilet chain. (Wikipedia won't tell me for sure, but if you have ever been inebriated, you might recognize this as the sort of dumbass thing a drunk person would do.) Two of Ernest Hemingway's favorite hangover cures survive, both, interestingly enough, with the word "death" in the name.

First: Death in the Afternoon. Hemmingway's original directions for the drink are as follows (with thanks to "Pour 1 jigger of absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly." Obviously, there are some problems here. 1. How much is a jigger? Jiggers come in many different measurements. 2. I am not about to drink three to five of these things. Ernest Hemingway must've had the liver of a champion.

I discovered another recipe for "Death in the Afternoon" in one of my go-to cocktail books, the Art of the Bar. This particular recipe called for a mere 1/4 oz of pastis (pernod preferred) and a full glass of champange., where I found Earnest Hemingway's directions, called for a full 1.5 oz of absinthe (or the newly legalized absenthe) per flute of champange. What to do? Well, I used absenthe, because I had some on hand, left over from making my Harry Potter extra sinister, and I split the difference and put in 3/4 oz of absenthe for each glass of champagne. I feel this creates a good balance between the champagne and absinthe flavors, but if you'd prefer to add more absinthe, feel free. Earnest is on your side. I did not test out the efficacy of this drink as a hangover cure (although you might need one the morning after one too many Ron Weasleys), but I did drink it right after breakfast, which counts for something. Right?

Death in the Afternoon
3/4 oz absenthe
Fill glass with brut champagne.'s it taste? Some flavors are pretty shy. Absinthe (which, for the unintiated, tastes almost exactly like black licorice) is not. There is definitely something in your champagne. To my surprise, absinthe and champagne actually play pretty well together.* You get the taste of champagne, with a nice licorice-y finish that is interesting without being overwhelming. If you don't like the taste of absinthe, you will probably not like this drink. If you do...well, it may be your new favorite thing.

*I'm continually surprised by how well champagne pairs with bizzarre and sundry flavors. Like, champagne and guiness? Surprisingly not bad.

The second, and far more intimidating, hangover cure I sampled is something called Death in the Gulf Stream. The Art of the Bar book first made me aware of the existence of this Hemingway reviver; I have Seamus Harris, from Tales of the cocktail, to thank for the directions for Hemingway's original formulation:

“Take a tall thin water tumbler and fill it with finely cracked ice. Lace this broken debris with 4 good purple dashes of Angostura, add the juice and crushed peel of 1 green lime, and fill glass almost full with Holland gin. . . . No sugar, no fancying. It’s strong, it’s bitter – but so is English ale strong and bitter, in many cases. We don’t add sugar to ale, and we don’t need sugar in a Death in the Gulf Stream – or at least not more than 1 tsp. Its tartness and its bitterness are its chief charm. It is reviving and refreshing; cools the blood and inspires renewed interest in food, companions and life.“

Seamus interprets "Holland gin" to mean Genever, which is sweeter than the London dry varities; for whatever reason, Art of the Bar called for something called "Extra Dry Holand Gin", which I was unable to find at the trusty downtown Spec's, so instead I used just plain old London dry gin. I am supported in my decision by this article about the boozings of Ernest Hemingway from, so that's something.

Death in the Gulf Stream (aka The Hemingway Reviver)
Crushed ice
Juice and peels of an entire lime
4 dashes of Angostura bitters
Healthy dose of Holland Gin (or extra dry Holland Gin, or London Dry...I used Broker's, if you're wondering. The bottle came with a little plastic top hat on it.)

I cut the lime into quarters, squeezed them into the glass, threw the peels in, and added the bitters and crushed ice. Then I added the gin (almost all the way to the top) and gave it a little stir.

I was very, very afraid to taste this. Notice the part where there's no sugar? And that is a lot of bitters. And a lot of booze. But: verdict:

You guys...I think I'm a total lush. I was fully prepared to taste this and report back to you that it was absolutely terrible. So certain was I of its terribleness that I almost typed the words in before even trying it.'s kind of good. The lime is bracing, the gin is refreshing, and all that bitters gives it depth...I feel a renewed interest in food, companions, and life. No, I wasn't hungover to begin with. But this drink? It's like a swift, and not entirely unwelcome, alcoholic kick in the pants. old rogue.


  1. " Obviously, there are some problems here. 1. How much is a jigger? Jiggers come in many different measurements. 2. I am not about to drink three to five of these things. Ernest Hemingway must've had the liver of a champion."

    You crack me up.

  2. I make my Death in the afternoons by soaking a sugar cube in Absinthe & dropping it into a flute of champagne. 3 is manageable 5 is pushing it :)

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