When the temperature soars, our appetites wilt. We’re just not in the mood for heavy food or drink.
Tip Top Cocktail to the rescue! This drink doesn’t contain much booze per serving—less alcohol than you’d find in a glass of wine, in fact. And its crisp, refreshing flavor revives our appetites. So it’s an excellent pre-dinner drink.
All around, this cocktail is—wait for it—tip top.
Recipe: The Tip Top Cocktail
We learned about this cocktail from reading Robert Hess. He, in turn, found a recipe for it in the 1931 Old Waldorf Bar Days by Albert Crockett Stevens. What was the history of the drink before that? No one knows. Its origins are lost.
This drink traditionally is served "up" (chilled and without ice) in a cocktail glass, but we like it better over ice in a rocks glass (and in hot weather, we need all the ice we can get).
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to make and serves one.
- 2 ounces dry vermouth (see Notes)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon Bénédictine (you may want a touch more; see Notes)
- 1 to 2 dashes Angostura Bitters (we prefer 2)
- lemon twist for garnish (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a mixing glass half-filled with ice. Stir briskly until the contents are well chilled—about 30 seconds.
- Drain into an ice-filled rocks glass or a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired, and serve.
- You can use any brand of dry (French) vermouth that you like. But if you have an open bottle of vermouth that you’ve been storing in a cupboard at room temperature, we suggest you buy a new bottle before making this drink.
- Why? Because vermouth (both dry and sweet) can degrade quickly once it’s opened. Although vermouth is fortified wine, its alcohol level is relatively low (about 18%). So, once opened, it will begin to oxidize. When stored at room temperature, its quality will drop considerably after a month or so. We always store vermouth in the refrigerator once we’ve opened it. It still oxidizes, but refrigeration slows down the process.
- Bénédictine is an aromatic herbal liqueur that’s on the sweet side. Based on the name, you might assume it’s produced by Benedictine monks. In fact, it was invented in 1863 by Alexandre Le Grand, a French wine merchant and industrialist. Le Grand did, however, boost sales by claiming that monks at a Benedictine Abbey in Normandy had developed the beverage.
- How much Bénédictine to use in this drink? Just enough for a hint of its flavor, without making the drink too sweet. We generally use a bit less than 1 teaspoon, although anything from ½ teaspoon to 1½ teaspoons is fairly pleasing. The amount you prefer may depend on how sweet you like your drinks.
- You can drink Bénédictine by itself as an after-dinner drink (we suggest pouring it over ice).
- Or mix Bénédictine half-and-half with cognac or brandy. In that case, you have a drink called the B&B. This is such a popular concoction that you can buy it premixed (just look in your liquor store for a bottle labeled B&B).
- Angostura bitters give this drink most of its color, and their taste blends well with vermouth. Don’t skip them.
“Nice,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I’m not a huge fan of Bénédictine, but this cocktail tips the scale in its favor.”
“This drink takes me back to the days before we really drank cocktails,” I said. “Remember how we’d sometimes order dry vermouth on the rocks before dinner at restaurants?”
“That’s a top-drawer drink,” said Mrs K R. “But this is better.”
“Can’t believe we hadn’t yet learned the joys of mixology,” I said. “Guess we didn’t want to get tipsy.”
“We were trying to claw our way to the top,” said Mrs K R.
“Yup, so a top dog like myself had to stay sharp as a spear tip,” I said.
“Um, right,” said Mrs K R. “That was back when you were a bit less thin on top. Guess the mange hadn’t set in yet.”
Ouch. Mrs K R knows how to put the cherry on top.
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Sherry Cobbler Cocktail
Brandy Smash Cocktail
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