Classic Cocktails twisted with Armagnac: Episode 1
Take a boozy trip back in time, exploring the roots of everyone's favorite social accessory: the cocktail.
The word cocktail originated in the United States in the 17th century but didn't gain popularity until the middle of the 1800s. This popularity is thanks in large part to Jerry Thomas, the granddad of mixology, who published his bartender's guide in 1862. Luckily, the recipes are just as good today.
While the origin of the word is widely disputed, a cocktail is often defined as an alcoholic mixed drink that contains three or more ingredients, at least one of which is a spirit.
New drinks are good, but classics are classics for a reason.
So get your shakers ready. In no particular order, here are eight of the oldest cocktails in history now twisted with Armagnac.
The White Lady is essentially a Sidecar made with gin in place of Armagnac. Invented by the aforementioned Harry Craddock at The American Bar at The Savoy, the original recipe, printed in his 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, includes gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and egg white served in a Champagne coupe or Martini glass.
Try our twist on the White Lady with Blanche-Armagnac
Similar to the Gimlet and Gin Fizz in character, this Tom Collins twist blends Blanche-Armagnac with lemon juice, sugar and soda water. The cocktail first made it into print in 1876 in Jerry Thomas’ cocktail bible, The Bartender’s Guide, and is thought to have mutated from the John Collins, named after a waiter at Limmer’s Old House on Conduit Street in Mayfair where the fizzy drink was invented in the 1860s.
Starting out life more like a gin punch such as those served at fashionable London clubs like The Garrick in the mid-19th century, Thomas changed the name from the John to the Tom Collins in 1876 due to the use of Old Tom gin.
By the late-19th century, the cocktail was being served across America. Much twisted on, the Juan Collins uses Tequila in place of gin, while the Jack Collins uses Applejack, the Ron Collins rum, the Phil Collins Pisco, and the Blanche Collins Blanche-Armagnac.
The Mint Julep is inextricably linked to the Kentucky Derby. Our version is a simple blend of Armagnac, fresh mint, peach pure, sugar and water, the refreshing drink is often served in a frosted pewter cup laden with ice. Coming under the “smash” category of cocktail, the spearmint is crushed in order to release its essential oils.
The Mint Julep is thought to have originated in America’s Deep South as a medicinal remedy for stomach ache, appearing in print as early as 1784.
The word “julep” originates from the Persian word “gulab”, meaning rose water, with some believing that the cocktail has Arabic origins, starting life as a mixture of water and rose petals. In addition to Bourbon, there are twists that use gin, armagnac brandy and whisky as a base, with Jerry Thomas allowing for all three in his 1887 Bartenders Guide.
As with many classic cocktails, the origins of the Manhattan are disputed, but one popular theory claims the drink came to be at the Manhattan Club in New York in the early 1870s.
Rabastas twist of the drink consists of a simple mix of Armagnac, sweet vermouth and bitters garnished with a Maraschino cherry.
Contrary to popular belief, Manhattans can be both shaken and stirred. Pushing mixologist Luis Inchaurraga is currently serving a version made with duck-infused Armagnac at House of Mixology in Madrid.
The Old Fashioned has been loosening tongues from tumblers for over a century. Proving that simple is often best, Rabastas twist on the drink is a humble mix of Armagnac, sugar, bitters and orange peel.
The name is said to be a hat tip to the tumblers in which the drink is traditionally served, which are also called “old fashioned” glasses, with the name coming into common parlance in the 1880s. Twists on the Old Fashioned feature rum, gin, armagnac or brandy in place of Bourbon.
The recipe begins by dissolving a sugar cube with a little water in a tumbler, then adding two dashes of Angostura bitters and one jigger of Armagnac. Much mixing then ensues, with the end result garnished with a curl of orange peel.
Piña ColadaPiña colada is the classic tropical cocktail, with a distinctive look and taste. More of a smoothie as opposed to an alcoholic beverage. Our modest yet perfect blend of coconut milk, Armagnac and pineapple juice it's a challenge to this classic.
Our Mai Tai twist is a sweet potion made with Armagnac, orange liqueur, orgeat syrup, lime juice, orange and pineapple juice. Victor J. Bergeron reportedly conceived it in 1944 at the original location of his legendary Polynesian-themed restaurant chain, Trader Vic’s, in Oakland, California. It’s rumored that the name was taken from maita’i, which means “excellence” in Tahitian.
Prohibition in the United States comes to a close, and the French 75 gains popularity among Americans following its publishing in the famed Savoy Cocktail Book. Named for the French artillery piece, our version of this cocktail is made with Blanche-Armagnac, champagne, lemon, and sugar, served in a champagne flute and garnished with a twist.