The days are becoming shorter in our part of the world. And the weather is a bit less sultry. So our cocktail choices are turning from tall coolers toward short bracers.
Like this one – a most excellent combination of gin, dry vermouth, apricot liqueur, and Cointreau.
Recipe: The Claridge Cocktail
The Claridge probably was developed during the 1920s – a period some call the golden age of cocktails (more in the Notes).
This drink is a slightly sweeter, more aromatic version of the dry Martini Cocktail. But it’s not too sweet to serve as an apéritif.
Our recipe comes from cocktail writer Paul Clarke, who refined earlier iterations of the drink. In order to balance the drink properly (with easy-to-manage quantities), Clarke designed this recipe to be one of the rare ones that yields 2 servings.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 2. So drink it with a pal.
- 2¼ ounces dry gin
- 2¼ ounces dry vermouth (white French vermouth)
- ¾ ounce apricot liqueur (sometimes erroneously called apricot brandy; see Notes)
- ¾ ounce Cointreau (or another triple sec)
- Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass half filled with ice. Stir until the contents are well chilled (20 to 30 seconds).
- Strain into a pair of cocktail glasses, preferably ones that have been chilled. Serve and enjoy.
- We don’t think garnish is necessary with this drink. But if you insist, we would suggest a lemon twist or peel. An orange twist might work too.
- Why stir instead of shake? Because all the ingredients are clear. Shaking introduces small bubbles, which can cloud the drink. (This isn’t a problem with opaque ingredients like citrus juice).
- In truth, though, we often shake anyway – the oxygen bubbles dissipate quickly.
- Speaking of clear: This drink has a very light straw (almost golden) tint. Not transparent, but not saturated with color either. Although it is saturated with flavor!
- Any name-brand dry gin works well in this drink.
- Likewise, any name-brand dry (French) vermouth.
- We do recommend using Cointreau, which is a premium triple sec (i.e., an orange-flavored liqueur). Other triple secs would work too – but be aware that some of the less expensive triple secs are rather sweet (which you don’t want for this drink).
- Many cocktail recipes call for apricot brandy when they really mean apricot liqueur. True apricot brandy is hard to find. It’s distilled directly from apricots, while most apricot liqueurs have a neutral spirit as their base (and are flavored with apricots). Adding to the confusion, many brands that are labeled “apricot brandy” are actually apricot liqueur.
- The best brands of apricot liqueur that we’ve found are Marie Brizard’s Apry and Rothman & Winter’s Orchard Apricot. The latter is what we typically use. But there are other good brands out there – so if your liquor store has another suggestion, listen to them.
- Our usual disclaimer: We’re noncommercial and do not benefit from mentioning brands. We suggest only products that we like (and buy with our own money).
- So what’s the background on this drink? As far as we know, it was first mentioned in print by Harry MacElhone in his 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails (MacElhone was a bartender who later became owner of Harry’s New York Bar, a storied Paris establishment). According to MacElhone, the Claridge was created by a bartender named Leon at the Claridge Hotel in Paris. We’ve read other speculations about the drink’s history, but this one rings truest to us.
“Super drink!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Love the aroma. Not to mention the flavor.”
“Perky,” I said. “And a nice color. Good as gold, you might say.”
“Don’t you ever feel gilt-y at these weak joke attempts?” said Mrs K R.
“Naw, they’re just a miner part of our blog posts,” I said.
“I may have to pan that comment,” said Mrs K R.
“I was hoping for a gold star,” I said.
“I’m overloded here,” said Mrs K R. “Don’t make me open a vein.”
Guess I midas well put a spike in it.
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