Cocktails That Complete Me: The 20th Century
In this week's Spirits column, I discussed chocolate-flavored liqueurs, creme de cacao among them. There's nothing really obscure about creme de cacao -- you can find at least one or two brands in just about every liquor store.
But the actual cocktail applications for creme de cacao are limited. And only a few of the ones that do exist are noteworthy. There is, of course, the classic, versatile Alexander. And my Perpetually Rosy cocktail is based on an early 20th-century concoction called the Perpetual cocktail. But beyond that there are very few others.
However, I found one interesting creme de cacao drink during my ongoing campaign to fill in the blanks of my cocktail knowledge by finishing off The List of 100 classic, must-drink cocktails. That drink would the 20th Century.
This cocktail, according to Ted Haigh's fine book, "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails" (Quarry Books, 2009), was named for the futuristic redesign of the 20th Century Limited train in 1937. This drink is sort of like a Corpse Reviver No. 2 that calls for white creme de cacao instead of Cointreau (and also without the dash of absinthe).
Haigh calls the 20th Century an "uncommon" mix of flavors, with tangy lemon followed by "an ethereal sense of chocolate" as the aftertaste. "It's an amazing experience you won't want to miss," he writes. It's a weird cocktail all right. I'd love to hear what adventurous readers think of this.
The original 20th Century recipe calls for 3/4 ounce of lemon juice, which is way too much for me. I also found that if you wanted more chocolate flavor, an extra quarter-ounce of creme de cacao didn't hurt. Also, be sure to use white creme de cacao in this cocktail. In fact, steer toward white creme de cacao in all cases. The brown or dark creme de cacao is generally full of caramel coloring.
Adapted from "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails," by Ted Haigh (Quarry Books, 2009).
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
1/2 ounce white creme de cacao
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Twist of lemon peel, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the gin, Lillet Blanc, creme de cacao and lemon juice. Shake well, then strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.Twist the lemon peel over the drink to release its essence, then drop it in as a garnish.
| February 11, 2011; 9:00 AM ET
Categories: Spirits | Tags: Cocktails That Complete Me, Jason Wilson
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