Satan’s Whiskers

Satan’s Whiskers comes in two versions – “straight” and “curled.” It appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book, but Ted Haigh also selected it for his Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails – and, as usual, if it appears there, it’s probably really good. This is another of those drinks that winds up to be something greater than the sum of its individual parts, overcoming whatever limitations its ingredients might have. These sorts of drinks seem to be fairly rare, but when you do find one, it’s almost an alchemical experience.

The Recipe (straight):

2 parts gin

2 parts orange juice (fresh-squeezed, please)

2 parts French (dry) vermouth

2 parts Italian (sweet) vermouth

1 part Grand Marnier

1 dash orange bitters

Shake with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Recipe (curled):

The same, except use curaçao instead of Grand Marnier

I used 1/2 ounce of the first four ingredients and 1/4 ounce of the Grand Marnier on the straight version, and doubled everything (including the orange bitters) for the curled version.

Satan's Whiskers - straight

Satan's Whiskers - curled

They look pretty much the same, not surprisingly (the glass in the bottom picture is bigger, which is why it doesn’t look that much more full despite having twice as much in it). Haigh recommends the curled version; I concur. The differences are very subtle – both Grand Marnier and curaçao are orange liqueurs, but Grand Marnier also includes cognac, and is slightly stronger, while curaçao offers a purer orange flavor. I felt like the curled version was a tad smoother, with the flavors of everything blended together just that much more perfectly, but both versions are pretty magical, with an ideal balance of sweet, bitter, and alcohol. There’s a lot of orange flavor going on here, what with the liqueur, the juice, and the bitters, and you don’t really get any individual hints of the gin or the vermouths – everything works together in service of the whole. Marx would have been proud. You know, if the drink wasn’t made from a bunch of bourgeois commodities. Five livers, obviously. 

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