First, just a reminder that Sunday, Jan 30, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.
2 Dashes Absinthe. (2 Dash Absinthe Duplais Verte)
2 Dashes Grenadine. (1 tsp. Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (2 Dash Angostura Orange)
1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)
2/3 Scotch Whisky. (1 1/2 oz Highland Park 8 Year Old, MacPhail’s Collection)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.
I suspect the source of this cocktail is Robert Vermiere’s 1922 recipe book, “Cocktails: How to Mix Them”. He notes, “Recipe by Tommy Burton, Sports’ Club, London, 1920. This cocktail is named after the high-velocity shells, so called by the “Tommies” during the war, because all you heard was a whiz and the explosion of the shell immediately afterwards.”
From the wikipedia article:
Tommy Atkins – or Thomas Atkins – has been used as a generic name for a common British soldier for many years. The precise origin is a subject of debate, but it is known to have been used as early as 1743. A letter sent from Jamaica about a mutiny amongst the troops says “except for those from N. America (mostly Irish Papists) ye Marines and Tommy Atkins behaved splendidly”. The surname Atkins means “little son of red earth”, a reference to the soldiers in their red tunics. Tommy (a diminutive of Thomas), meaning twin, has been a very popular English male name since Saint Thomas Becket was martyred in the 12th century.
For all the not so subtle menace implied by the name and the quote, this is a fairly easy going and drinkable cocktail. A sort of Rob Roy variation, the dry vermouth allows the Scotch to come more to the fore, even with the few embellishments. I got this Absinthe in a small tasting bottle a while ago, and am finding it pleasant, though a tad less assertive compared to other Absinthes I sometimes use. I suppose that isn’t entirely a bad thing for mixed drinks.
You sometimes get requests for Scotch Cocktails and there are not really all that many options. The Whizz-Bang would be a nice change up from the usual Bobby Burns, Rob Roy, Affinity, Blood and Sand, Laphroig Project, and Penicillin Cocktails.
Breaking News Update!
Between my making this cocktail and the post hitting the schedule, I heard from Craig Lane, of Bar Agricole. He wanted to put the cocktail on the menu there and was looking for source corroboration for the story related to its origin.
I provided the quote from Robert Vermeire and he asked if I was interested in the specifics of the version at their restaurant. Well, of course!
We decided to use the Sutton Cellars Brown Label vermouth, which synced up rather nicely with the palate of Famous Grouse. It was one of those recipes that didn’t require much tweaking after that. 1.5 oz Scotch, .75 oz Sutton Vermouth, 1 barspoon Grenadine, 2 dash Orange Bitters (ours), 2 dash Absinthe (Leopold’s).
Clearly a field trip to check out the Bar Agricole version is in order!
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.