Wake up to a party in a glass
Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer in the US. Here at Kitchen Riffs, it also marks the beginning of our Summer Sippin’ and Snarfin’ Series. More on that in the Notes.
This is the season for celebratory brunches, too: Graduations, weddings, Father’s Day, whatever. And you need something for your thirsty guests to drink—something that can stand up to the robust flavors of brunch dishes.
May we suggest the Golden Dawn Cocktail? It contains orange juice, so it shouts “brunch.” It’s also a tad sweet, which means it will pair well with spicy breakfast sausages, savory omelets, and just about any other brunch food.
Plus, it’s a great looking drink. So you know it will be the life of the party.
Recipe: The Golden Dawn Cocktail
The Golden Dawn was invented in 1930 by Tom Buttery, head bartender at the Berkeley Hotel in London. It went on to win an international cocktail competition that same year.
Despite its award-winning origins, it’s not a drink you see much these days. Probably because it’s a bit sweet—too sweet for a before-dinner drink, in our view. But it works perfectly with brunch. Or as a dessert drink.
Over time, several versions of this drink have emerged. We prefer the one Ted Haigh details in his Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, and that’s the recipe you’ll find here.
Some versions of this drink leave out Cointreau. Omitting it results in a less sweet drink, but one that’s not as well balanced, in our opinion. So for us, Cointreau is a must.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- ¾ ounce gin (London dry gin; see Notes)
- ¾ ounce calvados or applejack (see Notes)
- ¾ ounce apricot brandy (see Notes)
- ¾ ounce Cointreau
- ¾ ounce orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed
- stemless cherry (for garnish)
- dashes of grenadine, preferably homemade (optional, but adds nice color)
- Place all ingredients—except the cherry and grenadine—in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well-chilled (20 seconds or so).
- Strain the contents of the shaker into a cocktail glass, preferably one that’s been chilled. Drop the cherry into the glass (it’ll nest on the bottom). Add a couple dashes of grenadine—it will flow to the bottom of the glass, enveloping the cherry (see pictures).
- Some recipes suggest adding a dash or two of bitters to this drink. Although not part of the original recipe, it’s a nice addition, and worth experimenting with. We suggest orange bitters.
- You can use any name-brand London dry gin in this drink. We like Beefeaters in cocktails, but that’s just us. BTW, our usual disclaimer: We’re noncommercial and don’t profit from any brand recommendations we make. We simply specify what we like and buy with our own money.
- Calvados and applejack are both forms of apple brandy (Calvados is French, applejack is from the US). Either works well in this drink. Applejack is less pricey, so that’s what we recommend.
- BTW, the only brand of applejack you’re likely to find in the US these days is made by Laird & Company. You’ll often see the 80-proof version. But if you have the opportunity to buy their bonded (100-proof) version, do so—the flavor is superior.
- True apricot brandy (i.e., brandy distilled from apricot juice) can be hard to find. Most often you’ll see apricot liqueurs or apricot-flavored brandies—but no problem, because that’s actually what you want for this drink.
- The best of the apricot liqueurs is probably Marie Brizard’s Apry (but it’s not cheap). Much less expensive (and easier to find in the US) is Hiram Walker apricot-flavored brandy. It’s not nearly as good as Apry, but it works OK in this drink. If you find yourself using a lot of apricot brandy, though, you should definitely track down Apry.
- Real grenadine is made from nothing but pomegranate juice and sugar. The brand of commercial “grenadine” you’re most likely to find at your local supermarket or liquor store (Rose’s) contains no pomegranate, just artificial flavors and coloring. We advise you to stay away from this, and instead make your own Homemade Grenadine. You’ll be happy you did (really—it takes just minutes).
- So what’s the Summer Sippin’ and Snarfin’ Series? Well, during most of the year, we publish one cocktail recipe a month (on the first Wednesday). But when summer rolls around, we tend to up our drinks quotient (hey, everyone gets thirsty when the weather is warm). Back when we did two posts a week, we liked to publish a cocktail recipe each week during the summer—that’s how our Summer Sippin’ Series got started. But now that we’re doing only one post a week, we just alternate cocktail recipes with summer-appropriate food dishes (and have renamed the series accordingly). Some weeks we’ll do back-to-back cocktails (we’re posting another one next week, for example).
“Winner!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, taking a sip of her Golden Dawn. “Though normally I don’t like sweet drinks.”
“Agreed,” I said. “I wasn’t sure I’d like Cointreau in this cocktail. But it balances the drink nicely.”
“Yup, you could say Cointreau tipped the balance,” said Mrs K R.
“So on balance, this version is sweeter,” I said.
“But not cloying,” said Mrs K R. “Because the other flavors keep it from being thrown off balance.”
“Nothing worse than an unbalanced drink,” I said.
“Though when it comes to being unbalanced, we’re experts,” said Mrs K R, hoisting her glass.
I lifted mine for a clink. Didn’t want to leave her hanging in the balance.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Queen's Park Swizzle Cocktail
Or check out the index for more