Usually the idea for this series is I post a cocktail recipe a few days before each episode of Archer airs, highlighting a cocktail or some other alcoholic beverage that will be featured/drank by characters in said upcoming episode. I give some history about the cocktail, you make it on the air date, drink it while watching the show, we all wake up with a headache, and we repeat it weekly. I know that there isn’t an episode this thursday, but there is an important event that is related to the show that may or may not call for celebration. We’ll get to that later.
Right now, let’s talk about the Gilded Age. It was a prime time for drinking if there ever was one. We had sky-scrapers but we didn’t have penicillin. It marked the first appearance of an automobile as well as the first appearance of peanut butter. Truly riveting times. Literally.
The other thing that showed up around this time was “The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders' Manual; Or: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style” by Harry Johnson, published in 1888 (Brevity was not the gilded ages strong suit). Harry’s bartenders guide wasn’t the first one on the scene (though he apparently claimed otherwise), we’ve talked about Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide before, which very well may have been the first ever, but what Harry’s had was the very first reference to the grand daddy of all cocktails.
On page 38, drink number 59, we get the first glimpse at the original Martini Cocktail.
Now, if a bartender made you a martini using the recipe in this book, you’d barely recognize it. It would be far sweeter because it contained gum syrup (basically old timey speak for ‘sugar water’) as well as curacao. The biggest difference though would likely be that in 1888, London Dry Gin just wasn’t very popular. The two heavy hitters back then were jenever and old tom gin. Old Tom Gin was much sweeter and that is what would have been used in this recipe.
Not only that but it also called for dashes of Boker’s Bitters. Some martini recipes call for bitters today, but generally most are made without it.
Last but not least, olives came nowhere near this drink. Instead, it would have been garnished with a lemon twist. I know. I know. Pick your jaw up off the floor. I know.
Here’s the recipe as it was called for in Harry’s guide:
Fill a mixing glass up with ice and add the following
- 2 or 3 dashes of Gum Syrup;
- 2 or 3 dashes of Bitters; (Boker’s genuine only.)
- 1 dash of Curacao
- ½ wine glassful [1oz] of Old Tom Gin
- ½ wine glassful [1oz] of Vermouth; (though not specified in the recipe, historically this would have been a sweet vermouth, not dry)
Stir up well with spoon, strain into a fancy cocktail glass , squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top, and serve.
Anyone who enjoys martinis will tell you that this is quite a different kind of drink than the martini of today. However, what I will tell you is that it’s actually pretty fucking tasty.
If you were to try and make this recipe 10 years ago several of those ingredients would be really hard to find (Specifically the Old Tom Gin and Boker’s Bitters) but thanks to a revival in the classic cocktail world, you can likely get absolutely everything you need at your local liquor store...Ok, maybe not the bitters, but they sell that shit online if you want to get it, or just substitute with Angostura which you can get just about anywhere. Seriously, they have it at Whole Foods now.
Or just make a modern martini. Just don’t be a dick and shake it. I know that James Bond did it. He was also an amateur. Stir it. Seriously.
OH! I almost forgot! Back in 1888, T.S. Eliot was born, who later published the play “The Cocktail Party” in 1949, the same year that the first Emmy awards were held in California. In 2009, Kevin Bacon was nominated for an Emmy for his role in HBO’s TAKING CHANCE . September 2009 was when the very first episode of Archer was sneak peaked after an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. On July 19th, 2012, Archer very well might get its first Emmy nomination, and if it does, I want you to raise your fucking martini in the air and yell WHOOOOOOOO!!!
That is all.