This New Orleans charmer features complex, spicy flavor
Looking for a new twist on Mother’s Day? Try this tasty tipple.
It features bourbon at play with some spicy, jazzy companions (because New Orleans, you know).
Serve it and toast all the maternal spirits in your life. It’s the right thing to do.
Recipe: The Mother-in-Law Cocktail
We learned about this drink from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh discovered it on Chuck Taggart’s website, The Gumbo Pages. (BTW, if you’re not familiar with The Gumbo Pages, it’s one of the best sources we know for authentic Louisiana food and drink recipes.)
This cocktail dates back at least to the early 20th century. It was invented by . . . someone’s mother-in-law (Mrs. Lucien E. Lyons of New Orleans is the lady in question). The original recipe was mixed by the quart – it required an entire bottle of bourbon – and was served from a decanter. If you click the link to The Gumbo Pages in the paragraph above, you can read much more about the history of the drink.
Ted Haigh reduced the recipe to a mere 9 ounces of bourbon – which he suggests will serve 3 people. That’s still a bit much for us, so we cut his quantity in half. Our recipe still requires a hefty 4½ ounces of bourbon, so we say it serves two.
- 4½ ounces bourbon
- ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
- ¼ ounce Grand Marnier (or other good-quality orange curaçao)
- ½ teaspoon Amer Picon (or substitute; see Notes)
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- ½ teaspoon Peychaud’s bitters
- ½ teaspoon Angostura bitters
- garnish of an orange or lemon slice or wheel (optional)
- Combine all the ingredients (except garnish) in a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir briskly until the contents are well chilled (30 seconds ought to do it).
- Strain into two cocktail glasses (preferably ones that have been chilled). Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
- Why stir rather than shake? Because all the ingredients are clear. Shaking introduces tiny oxygen bubbles, which can cloud the drink.
- But the cloudiness dissipates quickly, so we often shake anyway.
- Amer Picon is a French liqueur that was a popular cocktail ingredient at the beginning of the 20th century. It went out of production for a quite a few years and, although it’s being produced again, it is difficult to find in the US. But there are substitutes that closely resemble its flavor – we discuss those at length in our post about The Brooklyn Cocktail. Our favorite Amer Picon substitute is Bigallet China-China Amer, so that’s what we use.
- We sometimes increase the amount of Amer Picon to 1 teaspoon.
- This recipe calls for rather large quantities of bitters (most drinks require only a dash or two). The bitters add a spicy flavor that’s mellowed by the other ingredients.
- If you skip the simple syrup, you’ll still have a nicely flavored tipple. But we think simple syrup helps soften and balance the drink.
- BTW, if you don’t have simple syrup, you can just add finely granulated sugar. You’ll probably have to stir longer to ensure it all dissolves, though.
- We think garnish is very optional for this drink. We sometimes see recipes that suggest using a maraschino cherry. That’s festive looking, but too sweet (even the brandied ones). We generally add an orange wheel as garnish (if we garnish at all) because we like the way it looks.
- This drink typically is served “up” in a cocktail glass. But we also like it over ice in a rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass.
“Mamma mia!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This drink is fabulous.”
“Yup,” I said. “We tapped the mother lode of cocktail flavor.”
“It’s a drink that every mother’s son would crave,” said Mrs K R.
“But your glass is empty already,” I said. “I feel like a mother bird staring at a gaping maw.”
“Glad you feel the maternal urge to refill it,” said Mrs K R. “But let’s keep quiet about having more than one of these superchargers.”
Mum’s the word.
You may also enjoy reading about: