Barnum (Was Right) Cocktail
I’ll be the first to admit that I have developed a certain snobbery towards cocktails in general, and cocktail ingredients more specifically. Looking at the recipe for the Barnum (Was Right) Cocktail I had foreordained that this libation would be nothing special, simply a recipe we would try for the sake of the project, hereafter never to be reproduced.
My indifference turned to pure disillusionment when D returned home with a bottle of Bols Apricot Brandy (see snobbery above).
I have worked in my fair share of dive bars over the years and this particular line of Technicolor Bols products brings to mind images of barely-legal coeds attempting to get drunk on multilayered Skittles shots.
The problem D encountered when shopping for an apricot brandy was that while there are several craft apricot liqueurs on the market, none but the Bols declared itself a brandy. This raises the ever-present question of authenticity when it comes to reproducing the drinks in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. What was available when this recipe was created and how does it differ from the products on the market today? I suspect that the craft products D rejected were likely closer in production and flavor than the liqueur he chose. Some of these craft products were likely distilled from pure apricot juice that may have resulted in a more faithful apricot taste than the Bols “brandy,” which on further inspection contains water, sugar, alcohol, apricot juice, flavors, cognac, color, and citric acid.
To further complicate matters there is the ever-nagging question of cost. Does one take a risk and buy a seventy dollar 500ml bottle of a craft spirit with zero knowledge of how the product was made and how it tastes, or simply buy the cheap mass-market brand that you already know tastes like Jell-O? I’m not even going to attempt to answer these questions here but I felt a need to raise them as, so far, product selection has been our biggest obstacle.
All of this aside, the resultant cocktail was a pleasant surprise. Despite an entire ounce of the apricot brandy it is not too sweet. The gin (we used Broker’s here) dominated the foreground with a mellow apricot flavor bringing up the rear.
The Angostura bitters tied the spirits together, balancing the drink. It is easy drinking, perhaps to the point of peril. D declared “a few of these and you’ll find yourself swinging from a trapeze!” Overall it is an unintimidating and simple drink that I would feel comfortable serving a cocktail novice.
Barnum (Was Right) Cocktail
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce apricot brandy
- .5 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake over ice. Strain. Garnish with a lemon twist.