Desert Healer Cocktail

Desert Healer Cocktail

The Juice of 1 Orange. (Juice 1 1/2 Honey Tangerine)
1 Glass Dry Gin. (2 oz No. 209 Gin)
1/2 Liqueur Glass Cherry Brandy. (3/4 oz Cherry Heering)

Shake well and strain into long tumbler and fill with Ginger Beer (Bundaberg).

In his book, “Barflies and Cocktails”, Harry McElhone notes that this cocktail, “Recipe (is) by Hon. H. Grayson.”

I’ve been meaning to try the Bundaberg Ginger Beer for a while. The Desert Healer seemed a fine excuse to pick up a 4 pack. Very natural tasting, if a bit sweeter than I expected.

With the Bundaberg, Heering, and Tangerine Juice, this cocktail ends up a bit on the sweet side for me. Quite tasty all the same. One interesting idea I had was, instead of shaking the Heering with the cocktail, to add it after shaking and then top with ginger beer. I bet you could get a nice Tequila Sunrise type effect. Will have to try that next time.

I suppose there is the question of Cherry Eau-de-Vie vs. Cherry Liqueur. I tried it both ways, and didn’t really care for the Kirsch version. Almost all the sweetness here comes from the juice and ginger beer. Swapping Heering for Kirsch didn’t make that much difference in sweetness and the Trimbach Kirsch I used brought out an unpleasant “Children’s Aspirin” flavor in the cocktail.

Anyway, after the not very good Kirsch version of this cocktail, which went down the sink, I still had a half a bottle of Ginger Beer. 2 oz of Rittenhouse Rye, a couple ice cubes, topped with cold Ginger Beer. C’mon. To me, it was tastier than either version of the Desert Healer. Rye and Ginger Beer, what a combination. Sometimes simpler is better.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

One thought on “Desert Healer Cocktail

  1. The Desert Healer is actually a really tasty, delicious drink when you nail it- though it’s admittedly a bit fussy. Too much Heering, it ends up too sweet. Too much orange juice, the other flavors disappear. Too sweet an orange, too sweet. Too much ginger beer, too sweet. But with a gin that can hold it’s presence (the botanicals in Boodles work nice, but even Boodles can get lost with a really tough ginger beer; if you want a stronger gin note, Beefeater works well), a regular old navel orange, and a not-too-super-spicy ginger beer/ale (not Reed’s Extra Ginger), it’s really good, sort of a cousin to an El Diablo.

    Stick with the thought that all citrus fruit was smaller back then, and anyway a good rule to follow for sours is that it takes 1 1/2 oz orange to sour as much as 1 oz of grapefruit to sour as much as 1/2 oz lemon or lime. Cocktaildb lists a liqueur glass as being 1 oz. So:

    2 oz gin
    1 1/2 oz orange juice
    1/2 oz Cherry Heering

    Shake and strain into a long tumbler (like an 8 or 9 oz.) and top with ginger beer (remembering that most bar glassware, particularly bar glassware from that era, is going to be a bit smaller than what you have at home- you really only want, like, what, a couple-three ounces or so of the ginger; if your glass is bigger, just fill ‘er up with some fresh ice).

    The resulting drink is much drier and tastier than you might think, and the spice from the Heering and the ginger mingle really nicely with the botanicals of the gin. This is seriously a drink I wish more people would try. I think it’s a bit of a lost classic, actually.

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