Cobblers.

From the Savoy Cocktail Book:

Cobblers.

The cobbler is, like the Julep, a drink of American origin, although it is now an established favourite, particularly in warm climes. It is very easy to make, but it is usual to make it acceptable to the eye, as well as the palate, by decorating the glass after the ingredients are mixed. The usual recipe for preparing Cobblers is given below. To make a Whisky Cobbler substitute Whisky for Gin, For a Brandy Cobbler, substitute Brandy, and so on.

Cobbler
Fill glass half full with cracked ice.
Add 1 Teaspoonful of Powdered Sugar.
Add 1 Small Glass of Gin (or Whisky, or Brandy, as above).
Stir well, and decorate with slices of orange or pineapple.

The above comes mostly verbatim from Jerry Thomas’ “Bartender’s Guide”.

The Cobbler was probably an old fashioned drink by the time Jerry Thomas got around to writing about it in 1862. He includes 7 variations in his 1862 book, basically all identical: Sherry Cobbler, Champagne Cobbler, Catawba Cobbler, Hock Cobbler, Claret Cobbler, Sauterne Cobbler, and Whiskey Cobbler.

98. Sherry Cobbler

(Use large bar glass.)

2 wine-glasses of sherry.
1 table-spoonful of sugar.
2 or 3 slices of orange.
Fill a tumbler with shaved ice, shake well, and ornament with berries in season. Place a straw as represented in the wood-cut.

I wasn’t really feeling the Sherry Cobbler and am unclear about if I could even find Hock or Catawba. Champagne seemed a little hackneyed and the Whiskey Cobbler like Thomas was throwing a bone to modern taste by including a Cobbler based on spirits instead of wine.

I thought about a Port Cobbler, which sounded nice, but my favorite old fashioned wine is Madeira. So, over my lunch hour, I dropped by to pay the lovely women of Cask Store a visit and scored a new bottle of Madeira.

Madeira Cobbler.
4 oz Blandy’s 10 Year Malmsey Madeira
1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup

Half fill a mixing glass with cracked ice. Add Madeira and simple Syrup. Pour back and forth between mixing glass and serving glass a couple times, finishing in serving glass. Ornament with slices of orange and berries, in season. Serve with a straw.

In “Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash…” David Wondrich makes a couple notes regarding Cobblers in Imbibe, and I’ve been re-reading another couple things online. First off, it was one of the couple first American drinks to really make an impact on European and especially English drinkers. There are several references to Cobbler drinking in the works of authors as notable as Charles Dickens. Second, it was THE drink that introduced the straw to the world.

If there is a mistake that modern mixers make with the cobbler, it is that they make it too strong, either by using spirits in the drink, or by making it too concentrated with additional citrus juice or liqueurs and syrups. The Cobbler, like punch, is a sort of “session drink”. The Cobbler, especially, should be a light, refreshing, cold drink that you can enjoy at lunch on a hot day and still go about your business for the rest of the afternoon.

Americans, with our obsession with intense, strong flavors, often have a hard time wrapping our minds around the aesthetics of subtlety or mild flavors in drinks and food. One of the hardest lessons for us to learn is when to stop adding ingredients, flavors, and additional complexity to our beverages or dishes. We tend to say, “If it’s good, it’s better with bacon. If it’s better with bacon, it’s would be really awesome with cheese. If it’s good with bacon and cheese, it really could use some avocado to make it pop… Oh hell, just put some Foie Gras on it.”

If you are a bartender, or a drink mixer, the Cobbler is a pretty good place to start to teach yourself to appreciate austerity and simplicity, as long as you resist the temptation to add any additional ingredients. Save your creativity for the garnish.

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