Like the Spencer, the Barnum (Was Right), and the Paradise, the Pendennis Cocktail is another drink built on a 2:1 gin to apricot brandy ratio. Rather than lemon or orange juice, however, this one uses lime juice for its sour component – which turns out to be a very good thing indeed.
The drink is named for the spot it was invented, Louisville’s exclusive Pendennis Club, one of those tony old-school gentlemen’s clubs. It was also the site of an infamous escapade involving Louisville’s finest son, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and his regular collaborator, the English illustrator Ralph Steadman. Thompson and Steadman were working together on what would become history’s first piece of gonzo journalism, The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved, and had only recently met when Thompson wrangled an invite to the club from a young couple he knew. During their dinner, Steadman drew an unflattering portrait of the woman (not purposefully – it’s just his style), the fallout from which escalated until Thompson and Steadman were forcibly ejected from the club – but not before Thompson sprayed mace everywhere. Typically Thompsonian good times.
2 ounces gin
1 ounce apricot brandy
3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
2-3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The lime juice and apricot brandy go extremely well together, resulting in an almost grapefruit-like flavor that complements the gin. The gin meanwhile holds its own against the sweet-sour combo, giving the Pendennis a good gin kick up front. It’s a strong beverage that doesn’t taste too strong but certainly never fails to remind you that you’re having a cocktail. And a damn fine one at that. It’s a bit of a sleeper, but I’m going to have to give it five livers.
(Recipe from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)