Millionaire’s Cocktails

 

From Left-Right: Millionaire Sazerac, Millionaire Martini, Millionaire Manhattan, Millionaire Bramble, Millionaire Gimlet, Millionaire Brandy Alexander, Millionaire's Sidecar

During London Cocktail Week, I was told about “Millionaire’s” cocktails; these are essentially variations of any cocktail that are made as usual, but topped up with a small amount of champagne. Thus you can add a “touch of glamour” to any drink by making it a Millionaire’s version.

For example:

Millionaire’s Manhattan:

2oz Rye Whisky

1oz Red Vermouth

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a glass (making sure that the drink does not fill the glass).

Top up the cocktail with 1oz of Champagne.

With New Year’s Eve around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to look at some Millionaire’s cocktails so that you might be best equipped to try one on the big night.

Millionaire’s Martini
(Using Brokers Export Gin & Home Made Vermouth, 6:1 Ratio, Stirred)
As a Martini fan, I was intrigued to try this, although I am aware that some folk may see this as an abomination akin to the Death in the Afternoon.
It’s fair to say that I didn’t hold out much hope for the taste, but I was wrong: it wasn’t the best, but worked surprisingly well. It produced a very dry drink with the dry vermouth and dry Champagne working together; it may, in fact, be a touch too dry for some. I also quite liked the addition of bubbles.

Millionaire’s Sazerac
This definitely works and goes beyond the novelty of adding Champagne. It gives the cocktail a lighter feel. You meet the flavours of the whisky and anise at the beginning, with the taste of the bubbly coming through at the end. This reminded Mrs. B of liquorice; it is possible that the bubbles brought out the flavour of the absinthe rinse. An easy way to create an enjoyable drink and one worth trying.

Millionaire’s Manhattan
Very disappointing – the worst of the bunch. A clash of different flavours, which then disappear, resulting in a drink that is altogether rather dull. Neither the Champagne nor the cocktail does well here. Avoid.

Millionaire’s Bramble
Another triumph for the Bramble: the Champagne lengthens the drink without taking away the flavour of the ingredients; it all was nicely balanced. I thought this was a version of the original to be kept for special occasions, which is exactly what I think a Millionaire’s cocktail should be. If you usually find the Bramble too sweet, this may be a nice variation.
I also recommend straining out the crushed ice (or adding a straw), in order to make it easier to drink.

Millionaire’s Sidecar
Really very good – refreshing, with a little bite. The bubbles of the Champagne go well with the slightly sherberty flavour of the Sidecar. Once again, this could be a cocktail in its own right and not just a novelty. It is worth noting that, once the tasting was over, this was the first of the cocktails to be finished.

Millionaire’s Gimlet
The extra fizz is welcome; I do occasionally add a splash of soda to my Gimlets to give it a little extra zip. The drink is fresh and rather sippable. Despite its strong-flavoured ingredients, the Gimlet does still let some of the Champagne flavours through. Probably our third favourite.

Millionaire’s Panama (Brandy Alexander)
The reaction of the cream and Champagne made the top of this look a bit like meringue – how novel! Beyond that, it’s not that great. Although not unpleasant, it’s half-way to being a Ramos Gin Fizz, but doesn’t quite make it.

Conclusion
After trying a variety of Millionaire’s cocktails, it certainly seems that some work better than others and that, typically, the simple ones work the best. Our top recommendations for trying on December 31st would be the Sidecar, Gimlet & Sazerac. Either way, have an enjoyable New Year’s Eve.

Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon

A literary cocktail.

The Death in the Afternoon, an absinthe cocktail, consists of the rather unlikely combination of absinthe and Champagne, indeed many afficiandos proclaim the heresy of mixing the two. The drink hails from the mid-thirties and takes its name from a book by Ernest Hemingway.

According to “So Red The Nose” (see bottom), a collection of drinks recipes submitted by prominent 1930s authors, the cocktail was invented by Hemingway himself and he accompanies his recipe with the story of its discovery. The drink was created whilst the author was in the company of three officers on-board the HMS Danae. The four of them had just spent several hours overboard, trying to refloat the fishing boat of a Captain Bra Saunders which had become stuck on a bank during a North-Westerly gale.


On a little historical side-note, the Danae was a light cruiser of the British Navy and was leased to the Polish Navy during World War II. Fans of Hemingway may be interested to note that Captain Willie Adams from his 1937 novel “To Have and Have Not” is thought to have been inspired by Bra Saunders. To have inspired both a cocktail and a Hemingway character surely is some achievement!

Champagne has often been considered a cure for seasickness and so it has been suggested that, during the gale, this is why Hemingway chose this ingredient for this drink. That said, stout and ginger ale have also both been considered potential cures for this ailment and, although I am partial to a drop of ginger, I don’t think that the combination of an anise-flavour spirit and dark beer is quite to my taste.

So does the Death in the Afternoon ruin both the Champagne and the absinthe or do both add up to something grander when mixed?

As with many aspects of drinking and flavour this is a matter of personal discretion. I very much enjoy the cocktail and have shared it with a few friends who find it does work well with other good sparkling wines; however, I would perhaps recommend reserving your bottle of Dom Pérignon, 1952 for another occasion.

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