Leap Year Cocktails
This originally appeared in Five O’Clock, Harry’s Magazine.
Armed with only a flask and a little ingenuity, Max Wastler elevates common cocktails with supplies from his seasonal surroundings.
The Sadie Hawkins (Savoy’s Leap Year Cocktail)
Celebrating Leap Years has spawned traditions like women proposing marriage and digesting a cocktail that may lead to such activities. On February 29th, also known as Sadie Hawkins Day thanks to hillbilly comic strip Li’l Abner, try this martini with a tart citrus smack. This hillbilly’s hack at Savoy’s Leap Year Cocktail is sure to leave even the burliest saying, “I do!” For those on the go, I suggest batching this cocktail in your flask. Fill the flask halfway with the gin of your choice, topping it off with equal parts Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and sweet vermouth. Bonus points if you think ahead and bring your own lemon. Enjoy it stirred over ice. Oh, and don’t forget your pen… You know… for the prenup.
The SLCC Divot Stomp
This recipe has its history planted deep in the golf traditions of my hometown of St. Louis. While under the employ of St. Louis Country Club, Thomas Bullock, author of the 1917 tome The Ideal Bartender, provided the following recipe for an Old Fashion. It’s worth noting that he referred to fashion in noun form. He also specifically called for bourbon where prior instances simply called for “whiskey.” And this was published two years prior to the commencement of Prohibition. I’ve modified his cocktail to be easily transported to the country club’s polo fields. Where other clubs built around the turn of the 20th Century have converted their polo fields to full-time driving ranges, SLCC is one of the few whose grasses still see polo action in those muggy summer months. Fill one eight ounce flask with 100 proof bourbon near to the top. Shove four raw sugar cubes or pour four raw sugar packets into the mouth of your flask, dash eight times with Angostura. Shake the flask vigorously. Pour the contents over the largest ice cubes you can find. Serve to your four favorite divot stompers. Mind the manure.
The Gin Or Out Of Fashion
Used to be, the gin Old Fashioned was as popular as the whiskey one. Known as a Golden Spike, it was so named for that spot in Promontory Summit, Utah where the Union and the Central Pacific Railroads commemorated the forging of cross-country rail travel, that act which bound our nation from Atlantic to Pacific, by impaling the earth with the shiniest golden nail. In 1933, Utah was the thirty-sixth state to ratify the 21st Amendment, thus repealing Prohibition. By 1934, folks in bars from Salt Lake to Lake Erie, could be heard clamoring for this gin take on the famous Old Fashioned. Place two sugar cubes in the basin of a rocks glass. Dash each cube twice with bitters. I’ve found this cocktail benefits from Fee Brothers Barrel-Aged Bitters, but any bitters will do. Slowly begin to pour gin over the cubes, stopping once the gin has melted them. Turn the glass in your hand to slurry the gin, sugar, and bitters. Top with a half-glass of crushed ice and a lime twist. Pour gin over the ice until the liquid and ice are level.
The Thinking Touk
With whisky (or whiskey), provenance is everything. Canadian whiskies are much like their people. They are much sweeter and more mellow than their American or Irish counterparts. I have been enjoying this Canadian take on an Old Fashioned since a friend introduced me to it at an Opening Ceremonies party for the Vancouver Olympics. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and it’ll leave you singing, “Oh Canada!” Equal parts Canadian whisky, apple brandy, and maple syrup, stir with a cinnamon stick and top with ground cloves and a splash of soda water. For a nice take on a Hot Toddy, substitute the soda for hot water.
Illustrations by Jenny Mörtsell