The Savoy Hotel and the Dry Martini Cocktail

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

The Dorchester and the Manhattan

Count Peter

Our cars returned us to the Savoy Hotel, where under the watchful gaze of Count Peter of Savoy, we are escorted to a room near the back of the hotel.

Dry Martini Setup

Huh, seems to be a portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, behind all that Gin. And a statue of him in the corner giving the famous V for Victory hand sign. Wonder what that is about? Lots of famous people and politicians at the Savoy, I suppose.

Maximilian Warner from Plymouth starts, thanking us for coming, what a momentous and meaningful experience it has been for him, highlight of his career. He also explains that this long time in coming party to celebrate the legacy of Plymouth Gin and Harry Craddock, was a going away party for him of sorts, he will be leaving the Plymouth company for parts unknown. He then hands the “Mic” over to Erik Lorincz, to say some words, and make the final cocktail of the day, The Dry Martini. Erik says something cute like, “My hands are shaking too much in this esteemed company, I’d like to invite someone up to help me make this cocktail. Someone whose work has done a lot to popularize both the Savoy Cocktail Book and Harry Craddock’s legacy, Erik Ellestad.” Gulp.

Two Eriks at Savoy

(Photo by Jared Brown

OK, now my hands are shaking far more than Erik Lorincz’! A few questions as we make the cocktail, about the Savoy Cocktail Book Project. I manage to stammer out a couple semi coherent answers, didn’t know I’d be doing any public speaking, and somehow we both, shaking hands and all, manage to get the final cocktail, The Dry Martini, into the cocktail shaker time capsule for posterity.

Pouring Plymouth for Martinis

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Public speaking over, and lo, there was much rejoicing, Martinis, and Gin and Tonics.

How Many Savoy Head Bartenders to Pour a Martini

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Just how many Savoy Head Bartenders does it take to make a Martini?

Speaking of Head Bartenders, last year Angus Winchester blew through town promoting Tanqueray Gin, and brought with him a copy of the Savoy Cocktail Book he’d had Erik Lorincz and Peter Dorelli sign. I’d brought it along this day, and surreptitiously had the other Savoy Bartenders sign my copy.

Angus Savoy Cocktail Book

Unfortunately, Joe Gilmore’s illness made it impossible for me to get his signature.

Savoy Head Bartender Signatures

Or did it…

Savoy Cocktail Book

As part of the gift pack, they gave us a new edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book, with an introduction from Erik Lorincz and modern cocktails from the Savoy Bar, but they also had all of the living Savoy Head Bartenders Sign the copies, including Joe Gilmore.

Yes, I suppose I am a Savoy Nerd to get excited about this. Is that a bad thing?

Gift Bags

(Photo by Jared Brown)

I suppose I should mention, at this point, that one of the features of the tour, was the launch of the new Plymouth bottle in England. I can say without reservations that the people at Plymouth, Beefeater, and apparently, Chivas, along with their parent company Pernod Ricard, have been great supporters of the Savoy Project. I’ve met a lot of good people who work for them, and especially thank Trevor Easter for helping out get me across the pond for this day of celebration.

Gift Box

And the mysterious blue box which accompanied our gift bag, was also very cool.

5 Cocktails

Included a card with the 5 cocktails we had enjoyed during the course of the day and some wrapped items.


A goblet style glass, a small decorative cocktail shaker, and a bottle of Plymouth Gin in the new bottle.

Glass, Shaker, Gin

“Here’s to Harry Craddock ‘Bartender Legend’, Friday 25 January, 2013.”

To Harry

Finally, I will add a sixth cocktail to the 5, the Corpse Reviver (No 4)…

Corpse Reviver No 2

Corpse Reviver (No 4)

3/4 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or (I’ve been curious how the Kina from Tempus Fugit would work in a Corpse Reviver variation, and I had some in the house. Pretty tasty. I was afraid it would totally dominate, but it behaves itself here and works kind of nicely with the Cointreau.)
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash Absinthe

Shake and strain into a celebratory goblet.

…and raise a glass to Harry Craddock, the Savoy Hotel, and Plymouth Gin.


Dorchester and the Manhattan

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

We arrived at the Dorchester Hotel, where we were escorted, of course, to The Bar.

“The delights of cocktail hour have returned to London with The Bar at The Dorchester. Established as one of the places in the capital to see and be seen, The Bar at The Dorchester is renowned as much for its rich, opulent interior as for its menu of new and classic cocktails, devised by world-renowned expert alchemist Giuliano Morandin and his team, whose awards are too many to list.

“A rich palette of black, browns and aubergine combine with luxurious lacquered mahogany, mirrored glass, velvet and dramatic red glass-spears, to create the perfect night-time atmosphere. The long, sexy, curved bar offers one of the finest selections of spirits, champagnes and wines in London with a menu to match.”

Gotta love press releases and advertising copy.

Dorchester Bar

Glassware was already chilling, waiting to be filled with Manhattans.

I just like the sequence of expressions on Anistatia, the barman, and Peter Dorelli’s faces in these next three photos.

Peter and Anistatia One

Peter and Anistatia Two

Peter and Anistatia Three

Ahem, moving along…

Pouring Manhattans at Dorchester

(Photo by Jared Brown)

The interesting thing about Harry’s tenure at the Dorchester, is that for a long time neither the hotel nor Jared and Anistatia could find any actual evidence, in print or otherwise, of Harry’s time there.

From Wikipedia:

“The Dorchester Hotel was created by Malcolm McAlpine, a partner in the building company Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons and the managing director of Gordon Hotels Ltd, Sir Frances Towle, who shared a vision of creating the ‘perfect hotel’: ultramodern and ultra-efficient, with all the conveniences modern technology could supply. So, in 1929 their two companies jointly bought the Dorchester House, a large 19th-century building, and quickly had it demolished. Sir Owen Williams & William Curtis Green were commissioned to design the new hotel, using reinforced concrete to allow the creation of large internal spaces without support pillars.. The construction was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine, with the upper eight floors erected in just 10 weeks, supported on a massive three feet thick reinforced concrete deck that forms the roof of the first floor.

“During the Second World War, the strength of its construction gave the hotel the reputation of being one of London’s safest buildings. Cabinet Ministers, such as Lord Halifax and Duff Cooper, stayed there during this time, as did Winston Churchill, who had a wall built to add privacy to his balcony, which still exists. General Dwight D. Eisenhower took a suite on the first floor (now the Eisenhower Suite) in 1942 after previously having stayed at Claridge’s. Diners at the Dorchester from cultural circles during this period included Cyril Connolly, T. S. Eliot, Harold Nicolson, and Edith Sitwell.”

If Harry was at the Dorchester, he was serving quite the clientele!

Dorchester Letter Explained

(Photo by Jared Brown)

However, a letter recently came to light. Giuliano Morandin, manager of the Dorchester bar, explained he had a guest come in who said he had a letter from Harry Craddock which had been addressed to his father. Apparently, the guest’s father was something of a regular, and Harry felt it necessary to send him a letter, reassuring the father that he was not retiring, and he would be able to find him behind the bar at the Dorchester, “every day”. Ah, regulars.

Harry retired from the Dorchester in April of 1947, at age 74. He would help open one more bar, the bar at Brown’s Hotel, in 1951, before completely retiring from bartending.

Magic Shaker and Manhattan

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Salim Khoury and Giuliano Morandin placed the sample of the Manhattan Cocktail into the shaker time capsule.

Dorchester Group Shot

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Our group gathers for one last shot, in front of the Dorchester.

Once more, to the cabs, and back, I believe, to the Savoy Hotel, for the final cocktail.

Into the cars once more!

Cafe Royal and the Bronx

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar


Our cars deposited us outside the
Cafe Royal Hotel and we were escorted through the very modern new bar and restaurant, where I believe I spotted Rowan Atkinson, to the recently remodeled, and at that time not yet quite open, The Grill Room at the Cafe Royal.

“The iconic Grill Room (originally established in 1865) has been exquisitely restored to its original Louis XVI detailing and is now the place to enjoy Champagne, cocktails and a light menu.

“Nestled between the elegance of Mayfair and the creativity of Soho, the Grill Room is where great minds came together to change the world. It is in this very room that Oscar Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas, Aubrey Beardsley debated with Whistler, David Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust and Mick Jagger, the Beatles and Elizabeth Taylor danced the night away.

“The Grill Room is open from 6pm Monday to Saturday and has a regular programme of entertainment throughout the week.

“Reservations are required after 9.00pm. Please send details of your request to

“We will do our best to accommodate your request and will respond within 24 hours.

“Please note, admittance will always be at the discretion of the host.
“Dress code: celebrative and sophisticated.”

Well, so far this day had proved itself both “Celebrative” and “Sophisticated”, hopefully they will let a bunch of slightly tipsy bartenders, booze industry insiders, and journalists into this rather posh establishment! I mean, if Mr Bean can get in…

Dorelli Pours Bronx

(Photo by Jared Brown)

It was Peter Dorelli’s turn to make a drink for the cocktail shaker time capsule, in this case, the Bronx Cocktail. Some banter was exchanged regarding Italian Bartenders and their prominence in the English Bar Trade, not to mention how odd it was that they managed to maintain the strength of their Italian accent, even after years, nay decades, of living in England. I’m sure it has nothing to do with tips and charming the ladies.

Anistatia Speaks

(Photo by Jared Brown)

One thing that was most interesting about this trip, was to catch some glimpse of Harry Craddock, the man. There is so little of Craddock’s personality in the Savoy Cocktail Book, just a couple quotes and a picture, that he has always been something of a cipher to me. I’ve also not spent much time researching him, much more time on tracking down the origins of the recipes he compiled in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

This, I suppose, is the wrong way to go about it, something Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown have gone a long way to rectify in their book, “The Deans of Drink: The Amazing Lives & Turbulent Times of Harry Johnson & Harry Craddock as Seen in a New Light.” If you can’t tell, I am leaning heavily on the text of their book for some of these articles, but there is much, much more detail in the book itself.

“Being a narration of the Golden Eras of American & British cocktails as told through the careers & persona lives, with sundry historical notes & observations as well as cameos of other who made their mark, most notably Willy Schmidt, Ada Coleman, Paul Henkel Jr, James B Regan, Ruth Burgess, & William J Tarling; with rare photos & drawings; plus relevant walking tours of New York & London. Recipes herein are not only of historic import, the reader will find formulas created by leading bartenders of today who are influenced by these masters.”


So, yes, Mr Tarling was the head honcho here at the Cafe Royal and the president of the United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild. Tarling’s book, “The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book” is one of the gems of that gilded age of cocktails. The Cafe Royal was the place where American spirits, even native American spirits like Tequila, came together with European liqueurs and aperitifs in astounding ways that reflected the glamor and decadence of pre-war England.

Sidecar Cocktails

(Photo by Jared Brown)

We enjoy our Bronx Cocktails, snap some more photos, and off we go, back into the cars to head to another unknown destination.

Taxis at Cafe Royal

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Amer Biere #6

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Amer Biere #6

Ommegang Witte & Torani Amer

If we don’t get Amer Picon in the US, what do we get? Well, a fine Bay Area Company took it upon themselves to create a replacement, so the Basque community in Northern California could have their Picon Punch.

Torani Amer

San Francisco’s favorite for 65 yrs. Mix ice, grenandine & amer for a pleasant drink.

Yeah, fine, pleasant, even, San Francisco’s favorite, yadda, yadda, yadda. So is rice-a-roni, apparently, and Irish Coffee.

Torani Amer is really pretty dreadful. Every time I try it, my first thought is, “Who spilled the orange aftershave in my drink?” My second thought is, “Oh, that’s what chemical Caramel Color tastes like.” My third thought is, “I really should pour this down this sink.”

Witte is our version of the classic Belgian wit or “white” ale. Witte, which is actually Flemish for white, is brewed with malted and unmalted wheat, orange peel, and coriander – offering a refreshing style that showcases the Belgian talent for brewing full-flavored ales that are also light and balanced. It is pale straw in color, slightly hazy from the yeast, and topped with a huge white, fluffy head.

Witte is pleasantly light on the tongue, balanced between malt and wheat sweetness. Hops and spice with a subtle clove note baked by flavors of lemon and sweet orange give way to a dry, crisp, refreshing finish.

I like most Ommegang beers. They were one of the first beer brewers in the US to embrace Belgian style beer. I always feel like their beers are not quite as nuanced as their Belgian inspirations, but they are always good. Interestingly, in 2003, the founders of Ommegang sold their shares of the brewery to the Belgian brewery Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat.

METHOD: Pour a beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. (Really, take my word for it, don’t do it, just don’t! Use Amaro Ciociaro, or some other Orange flavored Amaro instead!) Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Torani Amer.

Yeah, I did make this, and I did pour it down the sink. Waste of a perfectly good beer. I added Amaro Ciociaro to the next one and I felt a lot better.

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

After enjoying our White Ladies and conversation, we were led back out through the front door of the Savoy Hotel and to the left along the Strand. I was told that the place we would be eating, actually pre-dated the Savoy Hotel.


Simpson’s-in-the-Strand is one of London’s most historic landmark restaurants and has been offering classic British dishes to its delighted patrons for over 170 years.

Originally opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house – The Grand Cigar Divan – Simpson’s soon became known as the “home of chess”, attracting such chess luminaries as Howard Staunton the first English world chess champion through its doors. It was to avoid disturbing the chess games in progress that the idea of placing large joints of meat on silver-domed trolleys and wheeling them to guests’ tables first came into being, a practice Simpson’s still continues today. One of the earliest Master Cooks insisted that everything in the restaurant be British and the Simpson’s of today remains a proud exponent of the best of British food. Famous guests include Vincent Van Gogh, Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.

“Sherlock Holmes”? I know Arthur Conan Doyle was published in The Strand Magazine, but I’m pretty sure Sherlock, Mycroft, Moriarty, and the Hound of the Baskervilles were, uh, fictional. Or is that the Half-Asperger’s talking? Speaking of, Steven Moffat and the BBC are on a real tear with their Sherlock and Dr Who “reboots”. I can’t wait to come home from work Saturday night and watch the Dr Who season premiere, too bad we only get like 4 episodes of Sherlock a year, but at least Benedict Cumberbatch is in “Parade’s End”… Er, I digress.

Lunch at Simpson's on Strand

Right, so they took us to the downstairs private dining room, where we were seated for a fine menu of British delights.

Christian and Guests

This is another picture of Christian from the Savoy, along with a few other bartenders I met on the tour.

Complicated Cutlery

There was a lot of cutlery, what is this Downton Abbey? Some confusion regarding bread plates and Wine glasses. Hey, we’re bartenders, not waiters or butlers.

Victor Gower Mixes

After Erik Lorincz’ White Lady in the American Bar, we were joined by the senior representative of the Savoy Head Barmen, Victor Gower, who made the Sidecar Cocktail for the cocktail shaker time capsule.

The Savoy Head Barmen have so far been:

Frank Wells, 1893 to 1902.
Ada “Coley” Coleman, 1903 to 1924.
Harry Craddock, 1925 to 1939.
Eddie Clark, 1939 to 1942.
Reginald “Johnnie” Johnson, 1942 to 1954.
Joe Gilmore, 1954 to 1975.
Harry “Vic” Viccars, 1975 to 1981
Victor Gower, 1981 to 1985.
Peter Dorelli, 1985 to 2003.
Salim Khoury, 2003 to 2010.
Erik Lorincz, 2010 to present

Some amusing stories about Harry Craddock, the man, were relayed by Anistatia. He generally declined to drink with customers, but would sometimes have a drink with Journalist friends before he started work, or after. One particular bar assistant was said to be quoted, “He was a bear to deal with if I didn’t get three GnTs into him before the night started.”

Anyway, if you think the Savoy Cocktail Book has a lot of recipes, it is claimed Harry had an index box filled with recipes, and added the 2000th recipe card to the box in 1928. At the time, as a marketing promotion, the Hotel asked him to compile his recipes into a single book, and the Savoy Cocktail Book was published in 1930. It is also rumored that the recipe card index box still exists, perhaps in the hands of one of the head bartenders.

After the publication of the book, Harry Craddock became something of a household name, “The Dean of Cocktail Shakers,” or, “Mr Manhattan”, appearing in liquor advertisements, and frequently quoted in Newspaper and magazine articles. He used this celebrity to organize, with the head bartender of the Cafe Royal WJ Tarling, the UK Bartender’s Guild.

However, after 19 years, he left the Savoy Hotel in February of 1939, and took the head barman job at the Dorchester Hotel.

After coffee and dessert, we head out to the front courtyard of the Savoy Hotel, to be picked up by our little fleet of vintage cabs and swept off to another undisclosed destination.


Total Gentian Domination #5

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Ninkasi Total Domination IPA & Salers Aperitif

Total Gentian Domination

Usually, when creating drinks, you strive for balance. Something not too sweet, not too sour, not too bitter. Sometimes, however, it is interesting to layer flavors. I think of Cajun or Chinese Food, where the cooks sometimes layer different types of spice or heat, some from black pepper or Szechuan peppercorns, some from chiles, some from Ginger, and some from freshly cut onions, to create layered flavor sensations in a single dish.

I like many West Coast hoppy beers, as long as they aren’t too extreme, (Moylan’s Hopsickle, I am looking at you,) and was mulling over how to feature one in this series of drinks. Thinking about them, Gentian came to mind. Both hops and Gentian have a sharp bitterness, but the Hops are sharp higher flavors, where Gentian comes in with lower notes and earthiness. Not only that, but it ties in with an ancient style of beer, Purl, which was a sort of morning-after tonic beer, brewed with Gentian or wormwood, spices, and bitter oranges.

I like most things that Ninkasi brews, even their comically named, heavy metal themed Holiday beer, Sleigher.

Total Domination IPA

First Brewed: 2006
Starting Gravity: 1067
Bitterness: 65 IBUs
Alcohol %: 6.7
Malt: 2 Row Pale Malt, Munich Malt, Carahell Malt
Hops: Summit, Amarillo, Crystal

On the bottle:
Multiple hops collide in balanced perfection, dominating the senses, achieving total satisfaction. From the Pacific Northwest, birthplace of the modern IPA, comes a beer whose name says it all.

Tasting Notes:
Total Domination has a citrusy, floral hop aroma, and big hop flavor balanced with a richness imparted by Carahell and Munich malts. This beer is a big flavorful Northwest IPA that maintains its drinkability, and as such has garnered great admiration from the novice craft drinker and the seasoned hop head alike.

I had a beer, what about a Gentian Aperitif? My favorite of the two or three that are currently avaiable is Salers. It doesn’t use adjunct flavorings or colorings to the extent that Suze does and it strikes me as slightly more interesting than Aveze.

One of the most classic of French aperitifs is a pour of gentiane liqueur on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon. Salers is today the oldest of the producers and also from the Massif Central, birthplace to this style of product. Unlike the large corporate producers that today add artificial colorant, Salers is all natural, with a drier and rustic character that has historically defined this drink. True to its roots, Salers sources its gentiane solely from the Auvergne. Enjoy in a traditional manner with ice and lemon, or in a variety of mixed drinks.

METHOD: Pour a beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Salers Aperitif.

The combination of Pacific Northwest IPA and Gentian Aperitif may not be for everyone, but it certainly perked up my taste buds enough to have two glasses. Definitely a tonic of sorts.

Street Glassware

Walking the dog the other morning, I noticed someone had put out a box of glassware on the sidewalk. This is not uncommon, I guess people are cleaning their garages. Spring Cleaning.

I looked a little closer, and noticed it was cocktail glasses, mostly Martini Vs, but there were a few prizes in the box.

Nick and Nora

Wow, a true Nick and Nora size Martini Glass! Also, as a bonus, from Harolds Club in Reno.

On his twenty-fifth birthday, February 23, 1935, Harold Smith Sr. opened a tiny gambling club in Reno, Nevada. He had come to “the biggest little city” because California was cracking down on the carnival games his family ran in the Bay Area, and in 1931 Nevada had legalized gambling. Smith called his place “Harold’s Club”—with an apostrophe—and it was to become one of the most famous gambling place of its day and one of the first modern casinos. (The apostrophe later disappeared from the name.) The new club measured only 25 feet by 150 feet, and featured one roulette wheel. It lost money, and after a few months Harold’s father, Raymond I. “Pappy” Smith, arrived to turn things around as general manager. In the meantime Harold had been joined by his brother, Raymond A., who during the Great Depression could not find work in his banking profession.

Pappy soon developed a reputation for trying anything, including letting players bet on which hole a scampering field mouse would enter. The stunt gained Harolds its first national publicity. It was a prime example of Pappy’s genius for promotion that gave the club a major advantage over its rivals, which were dingy, unappealing places leery of advertising their business. The most famous promotion involved “Harolds Club or Bust” roadside billboards erected worldwide, and other advertising took the same adventurous tack, publicizing the club anytime and anywhere it could.

California Cocktail

I think Patrick Gavin Duffy calls this a California Cocktail Glass, it is seriously thick and heavy. Can’t wait to freeze this glass and pour in a Manhattan!

Tiny Coupe

This tiny coupe is kind of cool, with the yellow stem, though I’m not even sure if it will hold an ounce.

Larger Coupe

This larger classic coupe is better, with its fancy stem.

Gin Fizz Glass

Awesome, a Gin Fizz, aka Irish Coffee, glass! I actually wanted to track one of these down during the “Fizz” section of the Savoy Stomp, but it proved elusive, unless you wanted to spend a lot of money for one branded with Buena Vista. I prefer “Harolds”.

Beer-Fashioned #4

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.


2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout & Angostura Bitters

To be honest, I’m not over fond of most examples of beers aged in spirits barrels. They are usually too alcoholic and too sweet. If you want a beer and a shot, pour yourself a beer and a shot.

Brewer’s Notes:
Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.

Recipe Information:
Style: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
International Bitterness Units: 60
Color: Midnight
Hops: Willamette
Malt: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roast Barley, Debittered Black

The Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is a well regarded example of the style, but I still find it cloying and over alcoholic.

What do bartenders do when they find things cloying and alcoholic? Why, we add water (ice) and bitters.

Angostura Bitters is one of the two bitters brands which survived both prohibition and the great cocktail drought of the 50s through the 80s, the other being Fee’s. Angostura is made in Trinidad, my famous writer friend Camper English visited and wrote about them in detail on his website Alcademics in the article, “The History and Production of Angostura Bitters.”

An important, and somewhat arbitrary, distinction in bitters, and a relic of prohibition, is the difference between “potable” and “non-potable” bitters. During prohibition, if your bitters were considered “non-potable”, that is, undrinkable, you could continue to sell them, while “potable” bitters fell under the same bans as regular booze. In modern times, the difference comes down to, if your bitters are “non-potable”, you can sell them in grocery stores, and if they are “potable”, they have to be sold in liquor stores. Gary “Gaz” Regan tells the story that the early iterations of his Regan’s Orange Bitters were just too damn tasty and the TTB sent him back to the drawing board to make them less drinkable. Not that I don’t know people who drink Angostura bitters shots, but then, I do sometimes run with a rough crowd. On the other hand, Angostura bitters are a lot more intense than most Amari, so I will slightly reduce the amount I am using in this version of Amaro and Beer.

METHOD: Place a large ice cube into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in a quarter ounce of Angostura Bitters. Pour over a Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. Stir briefly. Garnish optional.

Tasting this, sacrilege though it may be, I don’t think it is a horrible idea to serve the Bourbon County Stout on the rocks. The spice and bitterness from the bitters are kind of interesting, too. I skipped the fruit salad, aka garnish, probably best if you do too.

I still couldn’t finish the whole bottle.

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London. First post here: Gunnersbury Tube Station

One of the most fun aspects of the trip was chatting with European and UK Bartenders, on the way back from Harry’s grave I piled into a random cab with a couple Spanish Barmen and a Journalist from the national paper.

They quizzed me about what Gins and Cocktails were the most popular in the US, and I asked them about Bartending and Cocktails in Spain.

We pulled in under an overpass and were informed we would be going to the Savoy Hotel, entering through the River Entrance, but first there was a bit of business.

A litle Chivas for Burns Night

As it happened, our tour was taking place on Jan 25th, which while being the anniversary of Harry Craddock’s burial, is also the anniversary of Robert (Rabbie) Burns birth.

Near the hotel, is a statue of Robert Burns, and we stopped there, for a sip of Chivas and a toast to the great Scottish poet.

I include, by way of toast, a video of Camera Obscura, who have set “I Love My Jean” to music.

We arrive at the Savoy Hotel, make our way to the American Bar, Erik Lorincz speaks briefly, welcoming us to the Savoy,

Erik L Speaks

Anistatia Miller then stands up and gives us the low down about a few more details of Harry Craddock’s life.

I’ll quote Jared and Anistatia’s book, “The Deans of Drink” here regarding prohibition and Craddock.

“…for Harry Craddock, Prohibition meant the end of a career that he had built for himself…Harry found himself jobless, supporting a wife and a sixteen-year-old step-daughter who had come to live with them only four months earlier. It was time to head to the greener pastures of home.

“Craddock applied for an American passport, and on 27 April, 1920, he and his family arrived in Liverpool on board the White Star Line’s SS The Baltic. Describing himself as being in the hotel business, Craddock gave their destination address as Devonshire Roast, where his older brother Ernest resided.”

When they built the Savoy Hotel, they wanted the best of everything; August Escoffier, Cesar Ritz, but it also needed an American Bar to serve American drinks. When it opened Frank Wells was the head barman, but by around 1902, two women, Ruth Burgess and Ada Coleman had taken over the bar. They were both immensely popular with the English patrons, but less so with the Americans, who were unaccustomed to seeing women in bars. Harry Craddock joined the Savoy in its dispensary bar around 1921, and by 1925 had succeeded Ruth Burgess and Ada Coleman as the Head Barman of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel.

(Photo by Jared Brown)

It is here that the other aspect of our tour is explained.

When they remodeled the bar at the Savoy Hotel, Harry Craddock placed a shaker in the wall of the building, with a sample of a drink.

As there are currently five living Head Barman, during the course of the day, they will each will be mixing a classic cocktail from the Savoy Cocktail Book and placing a sample into a beaker. These five drinks will be placed in a cocktail shaker and built into the bar at the Savoy Hotel, as a tribute to Harry, and to the recent renewal of the bar at the Hotel.

The first drink, mixed by Erik Loricz, is one Harry invented, The White Lady.

Erik Loricz and Shaker
(Photo of the dashing Erik Lorincz by Jared Brown)