Hindenburg Cocktails

Special thanks to Airships.net and full credit to the work they have done in this area providing research and inspiration for the article.

Top: A Photo of the Smoking Room & Airlock, Right: Painting of the Smoking Lounge Below: A second painting of the Smoking Lounge – note the bottle of Benedictine in both paintings.

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The first commercial flight of the Hindenburg Airship to North America took place on the 6-9th May 1936. This luxurious floating cruise-liner carried many notable persons for its “maiden flight”. Aboard the Hindenburg Airship was a dining room, a reading room and, perhaps unexpectedly, a smoking room. This was a pressurised space and was only accessible via an airlock. It was equipped with one electric lighter and before you got to the smoking room you had to pass through a small ante chamber that contained the cocktail bar. It is thought that there were some cocktails designed specifically for the Hindenburg’s Bar; few details exist, but here are some drinks inspired by the information I have found.
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Kirsch Martini

#1) Kirsch Martini
The story behind this is that, on the maiden flight, during an evening party the bar ran out of gin (a travesty indeed) and so one of the innovative passengers on board suggested substituting  kirsch for gin. This individual was Mrs Pauline Charteris (née) Schishkin, the first wife of Leslie Charteris (creator of Simon Templar, aka “The Saint”).

40ml Kirsch

10ml Dry Vermouth

Dash of Grenadine

SHAKE

I’m not sure why the grenadine was included, but I think the touch of sweetness just takes the edge of the extreme dryness of the kirsch. This is a very dry “Martini”, but it still seems balanced. It is very clean and quite smooth, with a finish of dry cherries and a touch of cream. The warmth of the drink builds as you sip. I’ve never tried this before, but I shall certainly have it again.


#2) Old Fashioned

Another cocktail known to be served on the Hindenburg was the Old Fashioned; these typically preceded the passenger’s evening meal . This recipe comes from The Last Supper Club:

Dissolve a small lump of sugar in a little water in a whiskey glass.

Add 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters.

Add an ice cube, a piece of lemon peel and one jigger whiskey.

Mix with a small bar spoon and serve, leaving the spoon in the glass.

Excellent for stimulating the appetite it’s obvious why these were served before dinner. Smooth with a hint of sweet and smoke. Sipping one of these while floating across the Atlantic would be the height of luxury.

The Zeppelin Cocktail: with Kirsch, Adler Gin and (pride of place) Benedictine.

The Maybach 12 Cocktail: with Kirsch, Adler Gin and (pride of place) Benedictine.


#3)M
aybach 12

There was a cocktail called the “Maybach 12”  that was served on the Hindenburg the recipe of which has been lost to history. Here is my recipe inspired by the bar on the Hindenburg. In the two paintings of the smoking room (and the photo of the bar) a bottle of Benedictine is clearly visible, so it could be argued that this was a popular drink on board. The gin and kirsch come from the story of cocktail #1.

20ml Adler Berlin Gin (Dry Gin)

20ml Kirsch

10ml Benedictine

Add ingredients to an old-fashioned glass, add a large ice cube and stir.

It took a little time to get the balance of the Maybach 12 right; initially, I used equal parts, but it was too sweet. The final result is a light golden liquid that start of slightly bitter and then quickly moves to being sweet and herbal, finishing up with the dryness of the juniper and kirsch. There is a long finish of dry cherry and a faint hint of sugar.

The Maybach 12 Cocktail would make a great aperitif, as it really increases your appetite.

4) LZ-129 Frosted Cocktails
This cocktail is known to have been served by bartender Max Schulze on the Hindenburg and is named after the airship’s registration number. Fresh orange juice is certainly better than concentrate when mixing this and although the drink is refreshing it has a very simple and basic flavour.

30ml Adler Berlin Gin (Dry Gin)

30ml Orange Juice

Add crushed ice and ingredients to an old-fashioned glass.


Finally here are some pictures of the bar itself.

The Hindenburg Smoking Room Bar (notice the Benedictine)

A picture of passenger enjoying drinks during the Hindenburgs's first passenger flight to the USA.

A picture of passenger enjoying drinks during the Hindenburgs’s first passenger flight to the USA.

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Ginger Ale Cocktails

With the approach of the Ginger Ale Tasting at Graphic on the 17th January, I thought that I would look at some other drinks, beyond the Gin Bump (or Buck), that use ginger ale as an ingredient. Of course, the Horse’s Neck is one of these, but I will skip over this, as it will be the subject of another post.

 

Clockwise from back left: White Horse,Ginger Daisy, Happy Thought, Brunswick Cooler, Sloe Gin Bump, Dog's Day, Postmaster.

Postmaster
This cocktail is quite similar to a Gin Bump, although it less tart, without the citrus. For that reason, for me, it has a little edge on the Bump. I think it is important when making a Postmaster (or a Bump) to use a gin of moderate strength, around 42%, and one that isn’t too over-powering.

Happy Thought
A rather different non-alcoholic cocktail, this is a good take on an iced tea. We found the extra fizz from the ginger ale quite pleasant. Mrs. B got a lot of gingerbread flavours from this drink, found it quite yummy and thus it was her favourite.

Dog’s Day
Rather reminiscent of a rum and soda to start, with a slight smokiness from the whisky on the finish. The orange adds a little spritz of freshness to the drink.

Sloe Gin Bump
The sloe gin that I used, a home-made variety, was deliberately dryer than most, so it was interesting how the ginger ale brought out the sweetness in the gin. But it was still quite tasty; typically, I prefer my sloe gin with ginger ale to tonic water, with my ultimate preference being bitter lemon.

White Horse
A very tasty cooler; the ginger, Scotch and orange blend well together. I found this most refreshing, although Mrs. B thought it could use a touch more flavour; perhaps another splash of bitters was in order?

Ginger Daisy
To be to the point, this tasted very much like a brandy and ginger ale, but took a good deal more effort to make. Given the minimal improvement to the flavours of the simpler version, I’m not convinced that this is worth the bother. I was also surprised at how little the gin came through.

Brunswick Cooler
A lovely, simple cooler. This was so cooling that the cold went down my throat and chilled it like a good whisky warms it. Most unexpected; I have only ever had this twice before, both times  with Martinis (and one was made using liquid nitrogen). It still eludes me as to what exactly caused it, but a great drink nonetheless.

In conclusion:
It seems clear that ginger ale is a particularly good ingredient in non-alcoholic cocktails, as it was included in some of the best I have ever tasted. When mixed with alcohol, it seems that the simple cocktails are the better ones; good examples of this being the Postmaster, Dog’s Day and Sloe Bump.

Top Alcoholic Cocktail recommendation: Postmaster
Top Non-Alcoholic Cocktail recommendation: Happy Thought

Cocktails with… Hayman’s Gin

Hayman’s London Dry Gin was created by Christopher Hayman, the great grandson of James Burrough, founder of The Hayman’s Distillers and creator of Beefeater Gin. Hayman’s London Dry Gin was designed as a classic London Dry Gin and was created by Christopher Hayman as an expression of his ultimate London Dry Gin. Its botanicals include: Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Liquorice, Orris Root and Orange & Lemon Peel; seasoned Gin drinkers may note that these are all the hallmarks of a classic London Dry Gin.

A bottle of Hayman's London Dry Gin

#1 Neat:

With a short juniper nose, this a very simple, classic gin. It is not overburdened with any showiness, with flavours of juniper and citrus and a warming finish.

#2 Gin & Tonic:

Hayman’s makes a classic gin and tonic: there are crisp juniper notes with a little citrus and a touch of bitterness. Quite refreshing.

#3 Martini:

This was a clean Martini and has some warmth behind it. Strong juniper notes come through, along with a little oiliness. This as not as crisp as Martinis made with some other gins, but it still has the classic characteristics.

#4 Gimlet:

A smoother Gimlet than most, this drink is better with a touch less Rose’s Cordial than usual. The drink is tangy and crisp, with enjoyable sour notes at the end.

#5 John Collins:

Hayman’s makes one of the best John Collins I have ever had; it was tangy and zesty; full of life and flavour. It was exceptionally refreshing (Mrs. B said it was revitalising, but I’m not sure you could put that on the bottle!). This drink, with faint hints of lemon sherbet, was really very good and quickly finished.

#6 White Lady:

A lovely White Lady; mellow and well-rounded with the bright citrus of a good lemon sorbet.

#7 Aviation:

A crisp drink, with each ingredient clearly defined. There are sharp juniper flavours in the drink: it’s a beverage that makes you pay attention, which makes it more than just another Aviation.

#8 Bramble:

The juniper balances out the sugar in this Bramble, making it less sweet and more tart than others. Readers who usually find the Bramble too sweet, this is for you.

#9 Gin Sour:

Tart, with an unexpected creamy finish (no, I hadn’t just left some milk in the shaker) and a strong juniper finish. Different to most Gin Sours that I’ve tried, but certainly worth a try.

#10 Clover Club:

Great. This drink allows the flavour of my home-made Grenadine to come through. It is reminiscent of ice-cream, with its silky texture and smooth blend of flavours.

#11 Dubonet:

In my experience, these can sometimes destroy a Gin’s flavours, but Hayman’s stands up better than most, with the juniper balancing out the fortified wine’s bitterness. There’s a nice hint of citrus, too.

#12 Milano:

Amongst all of the cocktails that I tried, this was one of the few disappointments: the Gin seemed to be lost amongst the Galliano (this is not always the case) and so it didn’t showcase the it very well.

#13 Pendennis:

Hayman’s produced a very different Pendennis cocktail to those that we have had with other Gins. A jammy apricot flavour, similar to that of an apricot jam tart (my favourite flavour) appears about halfway through the drink. The full flavour of the Gin comes through and Mrs. B said it tasted strongly of “Pink” (whatever that means?).

#14 Alexander:

This cocktail had an intriguingly fruity smell; it started with hints of cream and chocolate, moving to warmth and a fuller appreciation of the Gin. The flavours blend together well, so that the battle for dominance between gin and cacao, which is characteristic of the Alexander, is notably absent.

#15 Singapore Sling:

I always enjoy a Singapore Sling, and this was certainly no exception. This cocktail takes a little more effort to make, but it’s worth it. Hayman’s Gin seemed to go well with pineapple juice, with its slight bitter edge balancing out the sweetness of the fruit.

#16 Income Tax Cocktail:

This was a smooth cocktail, with only a little juniper coming through. It rather masks the gin, however, and so is not the best cocktail to enjoy Hayman’s Gin in.

#17 Hot Gin Cocktail: HOT

Mrs B. has a newfound fondness for Toddy drinks; so much so, that I only got a sip to check that it was OK before handing it over. These thoughts are hers: yummy! This is the epitome of a hot toddy: the warmth of the drink starts it off and this effortlessly flows into the warmth of the alcohol at the end. It is incredibly comforting, and definitely my favourite of the cocktails we tried.

#18 Bakewell: HOT

This smells like a Bakewell tart, with an almondy milk taste and a little juniper on the finish. The Gin doesn’t interfere, but complements the other flavours. The cherry completes the drink.

All-in-all Hayman’s really is a classic London Dry Gin and if that’s what you look for in your Gin then Hayman’s is certainly for you. It worked very well in a Gin & Tonic and in cocktails that were sweet and contained citrus, such as the excellent John Collins. For an alternative to these fruity cocktails, try a lovely Alexander or one of the cracking hot gin drinks.

Hayman’s London Dry Gin is bottled at 40%ABV and is available for around £16.

Hayman’s also make an Old Tom Gin, a Sloe Gin and a Gin liqueur.

For more Gin Reviews please visit Cocktails with…

The East India Cocktail II

The East India Cocktail II

A cocktail revisited

 

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has commented on The First Part of my article on the blog or in The New Sheridan Club newsletter; your encouragement is incredible.

Now, back to the East India Cocktail! I decided to try the cocktail with an olive garnish. Initially, it seems to make little difference to the cocktail, but as I drained the glass and bit into the flesh, a horrendous flavour overtook my mouth; I now know why it was not recommended.

The ominous East India Cocktail with olive garnish.

Following my previous research, I was of the impression that the Raspberry Syrup version of The East India Cocktail was a more recent variation, but whilst looking at O.H. Byron’s Modern Bartender’s Guide I found the following recipe, which shows that both the Pineapple and Raspberry Syrup versions have been around for over a century.

Since the last article, I have been lucky enough to get hold of a bottle of Boker’s Bitters, the vintage cocktail condiment that has recently been resurrected by Adam Elmegirab. As this was part of Johnsson’s original recipe, I thought it would be interesting to compare one made with Boker’s bitters with one made with Angostura. In the interests of completeness, I undertook a second comparison of the bitters using Byron’s recipe, containing Raspberry Syrup.

The East India Cocktail #2 – Stirred
1oz Sherry
1oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash Orange Bitters

Here is another recipe, this time from Old Mr. Boston. Unfortunately, I could find very little history on this one. I chose Lustau’s East India Solera as my sherry, for obvious reasons. This made a crisp drink that was a good contrast to the #1 cocktail. The combination of Sherry and French Vermouth has a similar taste to Italian Vermouth and, in a similar fashion, really stimulates the appetite. Before I mixed this I was dubious, but, once again, I found myself to be pleasantly surprised.

The East India Cocktail #2 with East India Solera Sherry

West India Cocktail – Stir
2oz Gin
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
3 dashes Sugar Syrup
3 dashes Lemon Juice

I really like the idea of the East India having a western counterpart; unfortunately, this version from Derek Nimmo’s “Shaken and Stirred” does not live up to the dream. You will notice that this has more Angostura than sugar syrup or lemon juice and, as such, is rather overpowering. This otherwise dull drink I imagine is somewhat reminiscent reminds me of an occasion when a chap I know tried to make a cocktail with only water and Angostura Bitters. At least it didn’t have an olive in it.

After the disappointment of the last drink, but still being fond of the idea of a West India Cocktail, I came up with this:

West India Cocktail (An Alternative) – Stirred
2 oz Dark Rum
1 tsp Pineapple Syrup
1 tsp Curacao
2 or 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Maraschino

Bottle of Angostura and Boker's Bitters and The West India Cocktail (Alternative)

This simply substitutes Dark Rum for the Cognac and, to continue the tropical theme, I used Pineapple Juice and Angostura Bitters. Whilst not particularly original, I think it is a fitting tribute to the original. I used Angostura Rum to complement the bitters, which created a cocktail that was reminiscent of the original East India, only made a bit sweeter by the Dark Rum. This variation was a no-brainer, but I did quite like it.

Any more?
I could never say for certain; I have written far more on the East India Cocktail than I would have ever thought possible and new material may yet present itself. For example, I recently heard a story which places the origins of the drink with the East India Club in London, founded in 1867. That would, indeed, coincide with the appearance of the first known published recipes and, in fact, doesn’t necessarily contradict Johnson’s account. My conclusion: more research is needed.

This post is dedicated to Robert Evans Esq. and his fellow members at the East India Club who were the inspirations for these posts.

The East India Cocktail

The East India Cocktail

And its various variations


It was the name that first attracted me to The East India Cocktail; indeed, it seems that it is the unusual name that has kept this cocktail alive for so many years.
The drink has been around since the 19th Century and is mentioned by Harry Johnson in 1882 as being a favourite of the English living in various parts of East Africa. It is likely that the East India (also known as the Bengal) was created by an American bartender in one of the many American bars in one of the many grand hotels of the area.

From left to right: Recipe #1,#2, #3 and the Sloppy Joe.

 

But it is the many variations of this cocktail created over the years that truly holds my interest. In the following paragraphs, I shall look at four of these recipes in turn.

Recipe #1: Harry Johnson’s 1882 New and Improved Bartenders Manual – Stirred
1 tsp Red Curacao – (Hard to find, so I used clear)
1 tsp Pineapple Syrup
2 or 3 dashes of Boker’s Bitters (Again, hard to find, so I used Angostura)
2 dashes Maraschino
1 Wineglass of Brandy
STIR

This drink has a mellow smoothness with a sweetness that matches the rest of the drink and isn’t over-powering. All of the ingredients in the drink can be tasted, even the Maraschino. In comparison to the other variations, the golden clarity of this, because it isn’t shaken, reminds me more of the orient.

Recipe #2: Mr. Boston’s Mixed Drinks (1940) – Shaken
1 1/2 oz Brandy
1/2 tsp Pineapple Juice
1/2 tsp Curacao
1 tsp Jamaican Rum
1 dash Bitters

Notable differences are the transition to pineapple juice and the addition of Jamaican Rum. This drink was the least satisfying of the four, although shaking makes this drink very cold. This version is not as smooth as the first and is less sweet; but, really, it just lacks flavour.

Recipe #3: Vintage Cocktails & Spirits (2004) – Shaken
3 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Raspberry syrup
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
1 tsp Curacao
1 tsp Maraschino

A rather sweet and complex concoction, there really is a lot more going on in this recipe; it substitutes pineapple syrup for raspberry syrup, which changes the drink somewhat. It is more drinkable than the others and the raspberry and maraschino complement each other nicely. Despite all of this, I can’t help but have a nagging feeling whilst drinking it that I’m not being true to the original.

Recipe #4: Sloppy Joe from The Art of Mixing Drinks (1948) – Shaken
1 oz Port
1oz Cognac
2 oz Pineapple
1 dash of Grenadine & Curacao

I would be a terrible liar if I said that I was looking forward to this. Although not, in truth, an East India Cocktail, it shares some characteristics with it. Also, due to the high ratio of pineapple juice, David Embury suggests this may not actually be a cocktail, but I shall not wade into semantics.

Shaking the pineapple juice gives the drink an incredibly foamy head; surprisingly, the port and the pineapple work rather well together (never thought I’d say that!), but the brandy is lost. This is a very smooth drink and very, very different, but, with its creamy finish, is actually quite tasty. I wouldn’t advise using your best cognac, though.

The Future

There are some avenues of the East India Cocktail that I have not explored as of yet: the likes of the East India #2 and the West India Cocktail will have to wait for another day. In addition, with no olives to hand, I wasn’t able to try one of those as an alternative garnish in Johnson recipe; all of this will require further investigation, so watch this space…

If you enjoyed this article perhaps you might like Part Two.

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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