April brings both the Oscar awards and the birthday of film favorite Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (born April 16, 1889). What better way to celebrate than with the Charlie Chaplin Cocktail?
It combines sloe gin, apricot brandy, and fresh lime juice in a sprightly mix that shouts spring. Show-stopping flavor, you might say.
Get the popcorn ready.
The Charlie Chaplin requires equal amounts of sloe gin, apricot brandy, and freshly squeezed lime juice. Sounds like an unlikely combination, but it works. It’s a bit on the sweet side, though – so a salty snack like popcorn would be a welcome accompaniment (salt helps counterbalance the sweetness).
It’s traditional to serve this drink “up” in a cocktail glass, but we think it works better on the rocks. Melting ice tempers the potentially cloying flavor of the apricot brandy.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.
- 1 ounce sloe gin (see Notes)
- 1 ounce apricot brandy (or liqueur – see Notes)
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- lime slice or wedge for garnish (very optional)
- Combine all the ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are well chilled.
- Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that has been chilled) or a rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass filled with ice. Add garnish, if desired, and serve
- Garnish is not traditional for this drink. But we think a little extra lime is nice.
- Even if you’re serving this drink on the rocks, it’s a good idea to shake it with ice first, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Why not just add all the ingredients together, stir, and pour over ice? Well, shaking combines the ingredients better (particularly when one of those ingredients is citrus juice). And more importantly, shaking with ice chills the ingredients, so the ice in the glass will melt more slowly. Which means it won’t dilute the flavor of the drink as quickly.
- Sloe gin (despite its sketchy reputation) can be quite tasty – as long as you stay away from cheap brands. So don’t buy something that costs $10 or $15 a bottle (it will be way too sweet). Our favorite brands are Plymouth and Bitter Truth. We’ve also heard good things about Hayman’s, but haven’t tried that yet.
- True apricot brandy – that is, brandy distilled from apricot juice – can be hard to find. You’re more likely to see apricot liqueurs. But those actually work better for cocktails, so no worries.
- So, which brand of apricot liqueur to buy? Higher-end brands (like Rothman & Winter or Marie Brizard Apry) would work well. But for occasional cocktail use, we tend to opt for Hiram Walker (in the US, you can find this brand in any liquor store, and it’s less expensive). Be aware that Hiram Walker is on the sweet side, though. If you find yourself making a lot of cocktails that require apricot brandy/liqueur, we suggest stepping up to one of the better brands.
- Our usual disclaimer: We’re non-commercial hobby bloggers and don’t accept compensation for mentioning products. We recommend only brands that we like and buy with our own money.
- Because of its sweetness, the Charlie Chaplin Cocktail works well as an afternoon sipper, but less well as a before-dinner drink. We think it would pair nicely with many Polynesian- or Asian-themed dishes.
- Charlie Chaplin was an English actor who did his much of his work during the silent film era. His iconic character, “The Tramp,” is still instantly identifiable. In addition to acting, Chaplin wrote, directed, and produced many films (and even composed music for some of them).
- So how did the Charlie Chaplin Cocktail come to be? It was invented in New York at the Waldorf Astoria hotel bar sometime prior to 1920 (at a time when Chaplin was reaching the height of his fame). But that’s about all we know of the drink’s origins.
- There have been several different formulations of this drink over the years – including some with added sugar (shudder). But we think using equal parts of the three main ingredients makes for a balanced cocktail.
“Mmm,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “Sweet but not too sweet.”
“Well, I pride myself on avoiding the classic errors,” I said. “Not like some other bloggers.”
“True,” said Mrs K R. “You have an eye for the obvious. But you know what Charlie Chaplin said about comedy?”
“What would that be, my little film critic?” I said.
“That it’s sort of funny when someone slips on a banana peel,” said Mrs K R. “But even funnier when the person steps over the banana peel, congratulates himself, then disappears down an open manhole.”
Of course, that would never happen to me.
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