Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Liberal Cocktail

The Liberal Cocktail

This timeless charmer will intrigue and satisfy

The US had an election last month, and the results are in: We need a drink! And what more appropriate choice than the Liberal Cocktail?

It’s a bipartisan standard that dates back at least 125 years. So if you’re hankering after some traditional values, this is your drink.

Mix up a round of these beauties, then give us your vote of thanks.

The Liberal Cocktail

Recipe: The Liberal Cocktail

The Liberal is a variant of the Manhattan Cocktail and a close cousin of the Brooklyn Cocktail.

The Liberal is made with rye or bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth, Picon liqueur (or a substitute), and orange bitters. The drink’s distinctive flavor owes much to the bitterness of Picon (which is often called Amer Picon because “amer” means bitter in French). See the Notes for more on Picon.

This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces rye or bourbon (see Notes)
  • ½ ounce sweet vermouth (Italian red vermouth)
  • ¼ ounce Amer Picon or substitute (we like Bigallet China-China Amer, but see Notes)
  • 1 to 2 dashes orange bitters
  • garnish of a lemon or orange twist (optional)  

Procedure 

  1. Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir briskly until the contents are well chilled (30 seconds or more).
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that’s been chilled. Garnish, if you wish, and serve.
The Liberal Cocktail

 Notes

  • Why stir rather than shake this cocktail? Because all the ingredients are clear. Shaking introduces oxygen bubbles, which can cloud the drink. But shake anyway if you prefer. 
  • We like the flavor of rye in cocktails, so that’s what we use for the Liberal. No need to buy an expensive sipping rye – our favorite for mixed drinks is Rittenhouse 100. 
  • Want to try bourbon in this drink? We suggest using one with some zest to it – such as Wild Turkey 101. Again, you don’t need a premium sipping brand for cocktails (it would be good, but a bit of a waste). 
  • We like to use Martini and Rossi sweet vermouth for cocktails because it’s good quality and available everywhere. But there are several great vermouth brands available these days, so we encourage you to experiment (Punt e Mes, for example, would be terrific in this drink).
  • Amer Picon was invented in the 1830s, probably as a malaria remedy. The mixture contained quinquina and other botanicals blended with oranges. It became quite popular in Europe during the 19th century, eventually finding a home in several cocktails.
  • But Picon went out of production for much of the 20th century – which is probably why the Liberal Cocktail fell out of favor for decades. 
  • A version of Picon is back on the market now, but it’s difficult to find. Fortunately, several good substitutes are available. We particularly like Bigallet China-China Amer (see our post on the Brooklyn Cocktail for discussion of other substitutes).
  • Our usual reminder: We’re noncommercial and don’t get compensated when we mention brands. We buy our booze with our own money, and recommend only what we use and like. We always encourage you to consult your friendly liquor store personnel when selecting brands if you’re unsure about what to buy.
  • So what are the origins of the Liberal Cocktail? A recipe for it first appeared in George J. Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks, published in 1895. Kappeler’s version included equal parts of Amer Picon and whiskey, along with a dash of sugar syrup. Over time, the drink evolved to include red vermouth and bitters. The formula we suggest is now fairly standard (though you can find drinkers who favor somewhat different ingredient quantities).
  • The original drink featured a lemon twist, and that remains the most popular garnish. We prefer an orange twist, though, because it works well with orange bitters (and with the orange undertones of Picon). Some drinkers garnish with a maraschino cherry. Of course, you can just skip the garnish entirely – we often do. 
The Liberal Cocktail

Landslide Victory

“This drink is the winning ticket,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “And much needed after that l-o-n-g election season.”

“Good thing I’ve filled your glass to the rim,” I said. “You might say it’s a liberal pour.”

“Not to mention one satisfying sip,” said Mrs K R. “A flavor filibuster, in fact.”

“Fortunately, there’s more where this came from,” I said. “When it comes to drinks, we have ways and means.”

“OK, another round of these, Mr Chairman,” said Mrs K R. “It wins by acclamation.”

I’ll take that as a vote of confidence. 

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46 comments:

  1. What a charming and tasty drink! And those photos are just gorgeous, John.

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    1. Hi Angie, this is a terrific tipple -- SO worth trying. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Another reason this drink is appropriate now? One of its original ingredients was a malaria remedy. I love how I always learn something when I read your posts, John. And I am ready to drink liberally!

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    1. Hi Terry, we're pretty liberal with sharing drink tidbits and lore. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Replies
    1. Hi Vicki, it's very tasty! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. The votes are in and this drink wins!

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    1. Hi Pat and Dahn, it's unanimous! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Well timed cocktail. Now hand it over... GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, :-) Timing is everything! Thanks for the comment.

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  6. The best thing about this election period must be this cocktail. Thanks John!

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    1. Hi Abbe, we'll drink to that! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Well, if I made this for my husband, I’d have to change its name 🤣🤣🤣

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    1. Hi Mimi, once he tastes this, maybe he'll change his proclivity. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. glorious photos KR! tee hee - i had to laugh when i got your email. the ending of the title did not show up, so i just saw the Liberal Cock...

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    1. Hi Sherry, that's pretty funny! And it's a fairly short title, too -- odd that it got cut off. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Sounds like a lovely cocktail -- election season or not. :-) ~Valentina

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    1. Hi Valentina, it's really tasty. And we love the name! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. The Liberal Cocktail looks a treat, we'll want to sample it liberally.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, liberal portions all around! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. What an elegant cocktail, love the colour too.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hi Eva, and really great flavor. Winner, we say. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  12. I can’t imagine better timing for a cocktail! The election season was long – and is still going — and I’m ready for it to be done with. I’d certainly drink to that!

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    1. Hi David, this is one of the weirder elections in US history. We definitely need a drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. This sounds appropriately delicious!

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  14. Looks and sounds wonderful! It's definitely been the year to indulge in tasty cocktails!

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    1. Hi Pam, this is such a great drink -- terrific flavor. Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Replies
    1. Hi Gerlinde, we all do. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. No problem with a smooth transition with your Liberal Cocktail. A great sounding cocktail and a very photogenic one indeed...

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    1. Hi Ron, and we're all wishing for a smooth transition at the moment! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. You guys have the best conversations! And yes, even from the other side of the world, it's been a very long US election season (can't imagine how long that felt to you)! This looks like such a classic and I love the lighting in your photographs. Make me want to run to the bottle shop and see if I can find some Amer Picon. How interesting that a malaria remedy would become a cocktail ingredient!

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    1. Hi Katerina, the election has been going on too long. We need more of these! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. No doubt this was a grueling last several months. Thinking the pain won't be ending any time soon so will need to keep the ingredients for this cocktail ready and on hand. Cheers dear friend and stay well.

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    1. Hi Bibbi, it's been weird, hasn't it? Good thing we have cocktails! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. I definitely need a drink. OR THREE - pour me some LIBERY, John! haha!

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    1. Hi GiGi, a liberal pour coming up! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. LOL Do we need a drink after that election -- and then some! The orange bitters is especially appropriate since so many of us have felt an acrid taste in our mouths for the past four years. Here's to a much sweeter future ahead. ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, I'll drink to that! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. I could definitely use one of these cocktails (or two)! It looks super!

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    1. Hi Amy, we suggest two. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Is there a conservative cocktail :)
    Anyways bourbon and vermouth, I am all for it

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    1. Hi Raymund, not that we're aware of. :-) And whiskey and vermouth is a wonderful combo! Thanks for the comment.

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  23. I'm all about bitters, and I do love me a good whiskey, so this would be right up my alley!

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    1. Hi Frank, bet you'd really like this one -- truly terrific flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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