Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Journalist

It always pissed me off that The Journalist was such a lousy cocktail.

I remember first encountering it three years ago in the pocket recipe book of the Museum of the American cocktail. A cocktail named after my profession? A profession known for tippling? Cool. I gave their recipe a try:

1.5 oz. gin
.25 oz dry vermouth
.25 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes triple sec
2 dashes lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters

I shook it with ice, as instructed, strained it into a cocktail glass and drank. What a disappointment. I winced. I still wince when I make this recipe. It's too acidic, the sweet vermouth and triple sec working too hard to overcome a lot of bitterness. A perfect Martini, basically, gone very imperfect. Bleh.

Last week, I decided to rectify the drink, come up with a variation that tasted better. But first a checked a few other cocktail books to see if there weren't already some variances. I opened Harry McElhone "Barflies and Cocktails" from 1927 to see what he had to say on the subject.

Plenty, it turned out. His Journalist was working with the same six ingredients, but his proportions were quite different:

1/3 gin
1/6 French vermouth
1/6 Italian vermouth
2 dashes Curacao
2 dashes lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters

Instead of the ratio of the gin to the combined vermouths being 3 to 1, it was 1 to 1. Very different, particularly concerning the additional sweet vermouth. This was a much better drink, more enjoyable. Sweeter, yes, but infinitely more balanced.

I'm still not satisfied with the cocktail called The Journalist. I want to love this cocktail, not just like it. But McElhone's recipe is certainly an improvement over the Museum piece.

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