Some say the Brandy Crusta is distinct enough to be considered an entirely different type of drink than a cocktail. Others say it is just a variation on or an evolution of a true cocktail. When it really comes down to it, having this kind of argument is just going to end up with you having a warm drink and a sad face. Going all the way back to the 1840s, this is one of the older drinks we have explored. The basic ingredients of brandy, lemon, lemon peel and the sugar crusted rim seem to stay consistent as time goes on, but the other ingredients start changing almost as soon as it starts showing up in recipe books. Curacao and maraschino liqueur make appearances in different recipes, as does gum syrup and various types of bitters, and hell, throw some fruit in there for good measure!
For once, we have a drink that does not have a dispute over who created. With the great majority of information pointing to Joseph Santini out of New Orleans and no one else claiming ownership, we should be done looking at this one, right? Well, exactly where, when, and why he created it depends on the source. We find that a lot of the details on the origin require some parsing and piecing to get closer to the truth. So we dig deeper into Santini and just what he was doing in mid-19th century New Orleans. Was he a bartender? Bar manager? Café owner? Tobaccoist? Wine importer? Yes, probably all of that. And add super-businessman, mason, and reformer who cared a whole lot about New Orleans.
We don’t care if it is a cocktail or not, so join us as we try to nail down the origin story of the Brandy Crusta.
This was a fun episode. The cocktail itself had a fairly ordinary background, so we made the most of it by disparaging passion fruit and spotlighting the UK Bartenders' Guild. The drink itself appears first (and only) in the Cafe Royal cocktail book which for the first time we discuss as part of the drinks compilation project the UK Bartenders' Guild took on in the 1930s. This drink is itself remarkable because it's the only one we've seen that features passion fruit juice and the Cafe Royal cocktail book is equally remarkable because it's the only cocktail recipe book that features passion fruit juice at the time...and it does so 37 times. So we decided to focus on passion fruit since we knew nothing about it. We also sample some real grenadine and orange flower water. The Avenue cocktail contains:
Despite the lack of information on this cocktail, it was delicious. The team generally did enjoy this drink, appreciating a break from gin for this fruit forward beverage with a bourbon base. Nicole also pointed out where one could find the Passion of the Christ in the passion fruit flower.
This Fish House Punch takes us to all the way back to colonial America and includes stories you probably didn’t learn in elementary school. This punch is truly a monster in a glass, or maybe a goblet, or bowl, or whatever people drank punch out of in the 18th century. Containing nearly all the booze and all the sugar, this surely guaranteed the founding fathers could stay up all night getting trashed while creating a nation.
In this episode we discuss the origins of the Fish House Punch in the the social club known as the Schuylkill Fishing Company, AKA the Colony of Schuylkill. We also take a look at other Philadelphia gentleman’s clubs of the time, including the Junto Club founded by Benjamin Franklin.
Rumor has it that George Washington allegedly drank so much Fish House Punch once, that he couldn’t write in his diary for three days! THREE WHOLE DAYS?!! Wait, was this a standard for judging how bad your hangover was? The founding fathers were known for running up pretty large tavern bills, especially during election season, but could this story really be true? Join us as we try to figure out if the first Commander-in-Chief was a lightweight, a heavyweight, or just hated writing in his diary.
There are variations on the ingredients in this punch, but here is the ingredients used for the tasting:
4 oz Jamaican rum
2 oz brandy
1/2 oz peach brandy
1/2 oz maraschino
2 oz green tea
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
Something about a cocktail named The Filmograph sort of screams early 20th century technology. “Folks! Gather around and see the future of moving pictures. Just a dime will introduce you to the wonders of the Filmograph!” We aren’t exactly sure what a Filmograph was, but it must have been something because we now have a drink named after it.
With a lack of references to the drink and some vague information about film publications and projection machines, this one left us with a whole bunch of speculation on how it got the name.
In this episode we focus on the unusual ingredient of kola tonic, explore its evolution toward being arguably the most famous non-alcoholic beverage, and the history and use of the kola nut. So step right up ladies and gents and marvel at The Filmograph!
The ingredients are as follows:
2 oz. of brandy
3/4 oz. of lemon syrup
1/2 oz. of kola tonic
If you do a quick search on the internet you will find any number of websites and blogs mentioning the Fairbank Cocktail, or more accurately, the Fairbanks Cocktail. You will also find that most confidently claim that the drink was named after actor Douglass Fairbanks. Occasionally, the voice of reason comes through and points to U.S. Vice President Charles Fairbanks as the origin for this drink. We here at the Black Liver Project try hard to do our research and present information as accurately as possible. Here is a hint: it doesn’t have anything to do with Douglass Fairbanks.
Join us as we explore this drink and get mad at the internet. The focus of the episode is the rise of Charles “Cocktail Charlie” Fairbanks and his political fall, because booze. Teddy Roosevelt has popped up pretty often throughout this podcast, but is featured heavily in this episode. That’s right folks, he killed big game, led the Rough Riders, and was still had time to throw his VP under the temperance bus.
The cocktail ingredients are as follows:
This cocktail was so, so pretty. It was pink and delicate, we all wanted to gently kiss and snuggle it. And then we tasted it. If you like a wet martini, this drink would suit you well, but it is just so shocking because it totally destroys expectations the color suggests. On further consideration, we even wondered if this dissonance was intended as a part of a joke ie that this cocktail is essentially a joke cocktail poking fun at Charles Fairbanks aka Cocktail Charlie.
The East India Cocktail was first noted by Harry Johnson who claimed in his book in 1882 that this was a popular drink in among the British in India. It was hard to find any truth behind this, but it certainly sounds imperialistic. As we dive into East India Cocktail we discuss the long European colonial presence in the East, corporate interests evolving into national interests, as well as mutinies and rebellions.
Come join us as we explore why this brandy-based cocktail might have been popular in India, some weird Canadian temperance poetry and the disgusting possibility of maraschino olives. Ewww. (Trademark maraschino olives.)
The cocktail ingredients are as follows:
Many cocktails got their start in the medicinal realm, and you can often see the transformations over time from cure-all to tasty beverage. So when a drink with a name like the Doctor Cocktail comes along, it is fair to assume that your aches and pains might be relieved from the ingredients. It does have citrus in it, so the Vitamin C might be warding off that pesky scurvy. Other than that, we don’t have much of an idea of how it got the name.
It seems to have originated sometime in the 1920s and was originally made with gin, Swedish Punsch, and lime or lemon juice. Depending on the recipe you might also have gotten some brandy or even Crème de Menthe in it. Mmm, medicine. This drink really doesn’t show up in many places, but it did make enough of a blip on the radar to be picked up by Trader Vic, who traded the gin for rum and helped it stay alive enough to be talked about by us today.
The cocktail ingredients were as follows:
This drink was a huge hit with everyone but me. It was a mouthful of lime juice with each taste. I can’t deal with that much lime juice, which is exactly what everyone else said was great about the cocktail. So if you love lime juice, you will love this cocktail…just be sure to bring your own Swedish Punsch.
The Diki-Diki cocktail sounds just dirty enough to make the 12 year-old boy in you giggle. Grow up! This is a sophisticated podcast. Hee-hee, it sounds like dick.
The ingredients are definitely not the usual suspects, featuring the infrequently used grapefruit juice, the Normandy-based apple brandy, Calvados, and finally Swedish Punsch, an arrack-based liqueur. Wait a minute. No gin? No whiskey? No bitters? What kind of a cocktail is this?
Unlike most of the cocktails we have covered, we know the exact origins of the cocktail AND its name! In his 1922 book, Cocktails: How to Mix Them, bartender Robert Vermeire, claims that he created it at the Embassy Club in February of 1922, and named it after the king of a Philippine island. I love it when the information is right there. During the 1920s, King Panglima Diki-Diki, was going public in his search for a bride. What made this newsworthy was that he apparently was under 40 inches tall and weighed around 25 lbs, and he found a bride of similar stature on a neighboring island.
Join us as we explore this cocktail, King Diki-Diki, and a little bit of Robert Vermeire’s life.
The ingredients are as follows:
We were excited to try this cocktail. The ingredients seemed so exotic and special. We really wanted to like it. But it just was not to be. As Kevin said, “It was not greater than the sum of its parts.” Nevertheless, I’m glad to have become acquainted with the Diki Diki and the story of its origins.
So having done the Mint Julep, what more is there to say about derbies?
We take a look at the Derby Cocktail which poses a few problems when trying to talk history about it. First, there are numerous recipes for Derby Cocktails, and none seem to be related to the others. Second, derby could be referring to any number of things like the Kentucky Derby, derby races, derby hats, Derby, England, or the Derby restaurant. So which is it? All and none!
The many derbies generally have a common source though in Mr. Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby. He arranged with his chums an annual horse race, and a flip of a coin determined the name. But further investigation into the father of the modern derby revealed steamy courtly intrigues in the lives of 18th century English nobility involving illicit affairs and false gardeners.
Due to the popularity of derbies at the time, it is possible that different versions were created independently in honor of horse racing. Maybe the recipes in print became more well-known, beating out the others. There has to be a winner though, so this is the version we tried:
This cocktail was definitely one of the more challenging ones for me to enjoy. Kevin and Rachel, both fans of bourbon and lime, thought this cocktail was wonderful. The lime juice was simply too overpowering; all I tasted was lime and for me that is not a good thing. But I have to admit, trying it gave me a sense of how much citrus juice was appropriate for drinks of that time.