Blue Bird Cocktail

Here’s another from the old Savoy Cocktail Book. A taste for gin is essential with this one; if gin is not your thing, you’re not going to like it.

4 dashes Angostura bitters*

3/4 wineglassful of gin

5 dashes orange Curaçao**

Shake with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Blue bird cocktailWhile the bitters and Curaçao temper the gin a bit, this is a strong drink dominated by the gin. I ended up doubling the quantities of everything. A “wineglassful” in this context means two ounces, so 1.5 ounces of gin was originally called for. It’s the kind of obsolete measurement that comes up pretty often in the Savoy and other old bartending guides. The dash, too, can be problematic. Many people simply treat it as an undefined small amount, in the case of bitters what you can shake out with two or three quick flicks of the wrist. I try to be more precise, and while there is some debate over whether a dash is actually 1/16 or 1/8 of a teaspoon, I use the latter. So, in the original recipe, four dashes equals half a teaspoon; with it doubled, as I made it, I used a full teaspoon of bitters, along with 1 1/4 teaspoons of Curaçao and three ounces of gin. It’s a good drink, but again, strong and redolent of gin, with faint undertones of herbal spice and orange. Four livers.

* If you look carefully at a bottle of Angostura bitters, it says to use it in pumpkin pie. This is an excellent suggestion, as it made for the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.

** There are many Curaçaos on the market. As with most liqueurs, you’ll get better results with a higher-end product, at least up to a point. I prefer Senior Curaçao, which as far as I can tell is the only one actually made on the island of Curaçao. Not that that matters, strictly, but, well, Champagne only come from Champagne, so there’s that. While it’s 2 or 3 times as much as the low-end stuff, the flavor is dramatically superior, and in any case, Curaçao is almost always used sparingly, so a bottle will last a good long time. You can find Curaçao uncolored, with orange color, or with, of course, blue color. The flavor of each is identical. The blue is commonly used for dramatic effect in drinks like the Blue Hawaiian, but really, there’s not much point. Go with an uncolored version, unless you’re really into dyes.


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