A majority of the time, pre-Prohibition cocktail books are the research materials I use for creating new cocktails or when I'm looking to serve something new to my guests. They are some great sources for reprints of the old tomes. Probably the best would be Amazon or, my favorite, Cocktail Kingdom. While many of these books are a fascinating look at how bars were run in the early 1900s and the recipes that were cataloged at the time, they don't necessarily delve into the history of the drinks or their particular place in American history.
We've already talked about making a proper Martini and if you've read that article, the recipe in today's article will look familiar. The Hanky Panky is almost identical to a martini made with sweet vermouth but with the addition of one extra ingredient. While the martini has its own history, the Hanky Panky also has its own fantastic tale.
This may be one of the most shocking posts I've ever written. Like pulling a band-aid off, this is better said quick: that "-tini" you've been drinking for years is not a martini at all! A martini does not contain chocolate, apple, other fruit flavorings (except orange bitters), olives or onions. A martini is made with only three ingredients that cannot be altered, unless you don't want to call the resulting drink a martini. Those ingredients are gin, vermouth and orange bitters.
This past Saturday I was teaching a class on cocktail bitters and one of the students mentioned they had purchased a well-known cocktail book and it only contained two recipes containing bitters. That got me thinking about drinks where bitters are an essential ingredient AND are so simple in execution that it would seem difficult to mess up.
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