After a couple of weeks of drinking almost nothing but beer for one reason or another, including wanders this weekend to both the Kernel and Partizan breweries, I thought I might treat myself to a cocktail. With some limes looking at me forlornly from the fridge I found some inspiration of what to do with them from my most recently finished booze book. Introducing my tipple for the evening – The Churchill.
The book in question is The Mixellany Guide to Vermouth & Other Aperitifs, which I picked up to try and expand my knowledge of the drinks contained in the title. The book’s quite a rough and ready guide, with an a-z of common botanicals and a similarly laid out section listing various vermouth, aperitivo, aromatised wine and liqueur producers along with their wares. There’s a nice bit of history as well, but there’s also lots of ‘No information was available at the time of publication’, and enough spelling errors and awkward prose that makes me think that a spell-checker and a touch more proof-reading might not have gone amiss.
Still, its my new guide to vermouth (it’s already made writing about old bottles at work immeasurably easier – there’s not a lot of info online) and the cocktail section at the back is the source of tonight’s drink.
Described by the book as ‘a Whisky Sour with a spicy twist’ this filled a number of different needs for this evening: being something I hadn’t had before; containing lime juice; being something that I had the ingredients for (sort of); and being something that wasn’t beer.
It was created by Joe Gilmore sometime after 1955, when he took over from Harry Craddock as the head bartender at The Savoy’s American Bar. Winston Churchill was a frequent visitor and this is one of the many drinks tweaked/created for him. As expected, there are a number of cocktails named after Sir Winston, voracious drinker of All Of The Things that he was, but this one also appears on Gilmore’s Wikipedia page, so it I declare it to be the one true Churchill.
The recipe as given in the book is:
60ml Chivas Regal
20ml Lime Juice
20ml Italian Vermouth
In usual fashion I couldn’t quite go with the exact recipe, lacking any of the ingredients other than lime juice. I substituted the Chivas for 50ml of Cutty Sark topped up with a splash of sherried Clynelish for a bit more body, and used Punt e Mes (which is a bit more bitter than the average Italian vermouth) and Pierre Ferrand Curaçao (because it’s really nice).
Flavour-wise it’s definitely to my tastes – in the middle there’s a herbal bitterness mixed with some sour citrus, balanced by a touch of whisky sweetness, dry orange peel and citrus oil. Along with that it’s got an underlying raisiny richness from the Punt e Mes and whisky. I suspect that something a bit lighter on the vermouth side (like my regular Gancia, which I’m currently out of) would have lightened things and reduced the bitterness a bit, making it slightly more suitable for a warm evening like tonight, but that’s an experiment for another day.