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Her Majesty’s Best

by Dennis Mayer April 19th, 2013 | Cocktails
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hmbToday’s drink is a bit nuts, combining brandy and gin, for no other reason than, apparently, because they’re both often associated with the English. The only other drink I’ve ever seen do this is the Singapore Sling, and even then, it’s a bit different, with the original recipe using cherry brandy and a host of other ingredients to make the whole thing work. In this case, we’re putting the clean, sharp, piney treble notes of gin against the soft, deep, bass buzz of a good cognac/brandy. There’s not much to mute the interplay except for vermouth, and a sweet citrus blast from the Cointreau. Just in case that’s not quite tolerable by itself, we’re adding some sugar, too. The drink reads like a joke on what the common man might think rich folks drink in 1930s England, I suppose, though the joke winds up falling flat; the cocktail actually isn’t that bad.

I can’t tell you much about the etymology of this drink, except that I’ve pulled it from Burke’s Complete Cocktail book, circa 1936, so it’s made at a time when vodka hasn’t yet become popular and when vermouth was still seen as a good and noble ingredient, not some slop that muddies up your martini. If you want to give this a shot, I’d suggest not pouring anything too premium for the liquors. (Sure, you don’t want rotgut, but at the same time, anything premium would be wasted in this cocktail.) Maybe a decent domestic brandy would work best. The vermouth will be contributing a lot of flavor, though, so don’t cheap out there — Cinzano and Noilly Pratt would be nice.

Her Majesty’s Best

  • 1 oz. cognac or brandy
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. curacao or Cointreau
  • .5 oz. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice, and shake to combine. Strain into a cocktail glass, and serve with an optional cherry garnish.

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