This is my first time participating in Raiders of the Lost Cocktail, hosted this month at Cocktail Chronicles. Resurrecting undeservedly forgotten things appeals to me, so Raiders of the Lost Cocktail seems like a great idea. Unfortunately I do not have much of a library of old cocktail books to scour for recipes. My only older book would be the Savoy Cocktail Book. Does Ted Haigh’s Cocktail Database website count as a source for the purposes of this event?
Anyway, the theme for this month’s Raiders of the Lost Cocktail is apricot Brandy. I have taken my research extremely seriously and my bottle of Marie Brizzard Apry has the scars to prove it. It feels like I must have tried a dozen or so apricot brandy cocktails, mostly from www.cocktaildb.com. In the end the drink I settled on for my entry turned out to also be in the Savoy.
The theme for this month really interested me since apricot brandy is so common in older cocktail recipes. I remember being very excited the first time I got hold of some decent apricot brandy because I figured I’d be able to make all these amazing old recipes. Looking back though, none of the drinks I made with that bottle of apricot brandy were especially memorable. In fact, off the top of my head I can hardly think of a single apricot brandy drink other than the Charlie Chaplin (for more on the Charlie Chaplin, and it’s dubious cousin the Buster Keaton, see here). This situation seems odd. Apricot brandy is great stuff and used to be widespread in cocktails, but it doesn’t seem to have many really popular drinks associated with it. Of course perhaps I am just ignorant on this one.
To narrow the field down a little I decided to look for a drink that combined apricot brandy and Lillet. Just before Christmas I got hold of a bottle of Lillet for the first time and I figured the two would be a good match. I was also sure I would find plenty of older recipes using the combination, since both used to be popular cocktail ingredients. I was sure at least one of these older recipes would be worth resurrecting.
Many drinks later, and after a detour away from Lillet, I finally settled on the Self Starter, an excellent drink that is perhaps just a little like the Corpse Reviver. Recipe below.
1 ½ oz gin (I used Plymouth)
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
¼ oz Apricot Brandy (I used Marie Brizard Apry)
2 dashes pastis (I used about ¼ teaspoon of Henri Bardoin but some people might prefer less)
Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
This is an excellent summery drink. First you get a whiff of apricots and aniseed, then the dry citrus and aromatic flavors from the gin and Lillet, and finally some apricot sweetness to round things off. The apricot brandy and Lillet almost mesh together into a single fruity taste. As always the pastis adds a touch of complexity, complementing the apricot particularly nicely. Overall the drink does a nice balancing act between dry complexity and more luscious summer flavors.