Chatham Hotel Special

Chatham Hotel Special

Chatham Hotel Cocktail

Chatham Hotel Cocktail

A word of warning, this cocktail is pink. Not a gentle pink blush but rather full on Pepto pink. Barney-the-dinosaur pink. Strawberry Quick pink. In the interest of full disclosure we did not invest in the dark crème de cacao called for in the recipe, substituting instead its clear counterpart. But as the recipe only calls for a dash I doubt that would have changed much.

Color notwithstanding the drink is enjoyable. It is decidedly a dessert cocktail but it is pleasantly boozy and not too sweet. The cacao is restrained; adding just a hint of chocolate-y goodness on the nose and the front of the palate, with the port taking up the rear for a long finish.

I will admit that I am rarely a fan of dairy in cocktails. I dislike the richness and the unsightly residue that invariably clings to the inside of the glass. We decided on 18% cream which gave the drink a lighter weight and texture, which we both liked. As for the residue I have no solution other than to drink quickly and clear the glassware immediately.

D declared it to be “A Purple Russian!” And seemed to feel it would compliment his morning bowl of cereal.

The Chatham Hotel Special feels like a true throwback to a bygone era. It is a curious concoction that we could see having a place in a period where dessert beverages were the norm – the grappa or amaro of its day – but it is hard to figure out where it could possibly fit in contemporary cocktail culture. While we concede that the drink is enjoyable we do not feel it is a recipe we are likely to revisit.

Chatham Hotel Special

  • 1.5 ounces brandy
  • .5 ounce Ruby Port
  • .5 ounce cream
  • 1 dash crème de cacao, preferably dark

Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Chatham Hotel Cocktail ingredients

Chatham Hotel Cocktail ingredients

Brandy Crusta

Brandy Crusta

Brandy Crusta

Brandy Crusta

If it seems like a while since we posted a bevvy from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails it has been. Summer caught us off-guard and we have allowed ourselves the distraction of side-projects and travels. But never fear, we will conquer all the recipes in this book, it is a marathon not a sprint.

The Brandy Crusta is a cocktail we have enjoyed before so we knew we were in for a treat. However the recipe caused some degree of uncertainty. Haigh calls for ½ teaspoon of fresh lemon juice but it is unclear whether it is only to aid in creating the sugar rim or whether the juice should be added to the mix. We researched other Crusta recipes and decided on including the lemon juice.

The mixed concoction is an attractive drink, visually and on the palate. It is balanced and strong but diluted enough by the crushed ice not to burn.

Brandy Crusta Cognac

Brandy Crusta Cognac

The curacao is in the background, offering pleasant hints of orange, while the lemon from the zest and juice takes the lead. The sugar rim keeps the drink from being too tart while allowing a degree of personalization as regards the sweetness level.

D, who likes his drinks on the strong side, would not add the ice cube to the strained drink in the future. For my part I felt the slowly melting ice made this bold drink more approachable with each sip. Both of us agreed that it would be fun to try a variation using an orange twist in place of the lemon to highlight the curacao.

Haigh notes that the Crusta, dating from 1862, is patriarch of the Sidecar and Margarita family. The recipe seems to reflect its heritage, it is simple without being simplistic and austere yet still pleasant. I look forward to recreating this cocktail mid-winter while sitting in front of a roaring fire and watching snow (or in our case rain) fall from the sky. This is the kind of drink that warms your from the inside.

Brandy Crusta

  • 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • sugar
  • 2 ounces cognac
  • 1 teaspoon orange curacao
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Start by rimming a glass with sugar by first dipping the lip in lemon juice and then sugar. Next, using a vegetable peeler remove a large swath of zest from the lemon. Line the interior of the glass with the zest. Add remaining ingredients to a shaker of crushed ice and shake until frosty. Strain into your prepared glass. If desired add one small cube of ice to the completed drink.

Brandy Crusta Ingredients

Brandy Crusta Ingredients