The MacLean Cocktail

From A.S. Craddock’s The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book (1935) comes this drink, named after one John MacLean, “long proprietor of the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Washington Post.” Maybe dude was really tall, but I think Craddock means he owned those papers for some time. Ah, the vagaries of language.


This is yet another take on perhaps that most classic and common of cocktail combinations, gin and vermouth. In fact, this one is so simple and seemingly commonplace that I had a hard time believing I hadn’t made it before under some other name. In fact, I pretty much had, as the Bloodhound Cocktail features the same ingredients in the same proportions, with the addition of some crushed strawberries. I didn’t feel the strawberries did that drink any favors, though, and I was using some pretty slack vermouth back then, so I figured this would be a good chance to revisit this simple formula.

The Recipe:

1/2 gin

1/4 sweet vermouth

1/4 dry vermouth

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

MacLean Cocktail

Yep, that’s it. Simple enough and, with good vermouth on board, pretty tasty. Nothing mind-blowing, but a very solid, very drinkable cocktail in the classic vein. It tastes pretty much like you’d expect. Gin. Vermouth. Mostly the latter. I used Vya Extra Dry vermouth for the first time in here, and while it’s miles ahead of your cheap vermouths (Martini & Rossi, Noilly Prat, etc.) I don’t think I like it as much as my beloved Contratto dry. And the Contratto sweet I’m working through is not quite on par with Carpano Antica. I will try the Vya sweet next, once my Contratto runs dry. My point being that this drink could perhaps be even better; and also that vermouth is not vermouth is not vermouth. Same as any other liquor, really. In any case, four livers.


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