My copy of David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks arrived last night. Once the gauche dustcover that was obviously designed by a blind man in the late seventies was removed I was quite taken by the powder blue embossed hardcover and sat down to read the words I have heard so much about.
Embury would have done extremely well in a world of social media, and there is little wonder in my mind why his book has remained popular. He exudes a point of view, not content with listing ingredients or defining methods, he defines opinion. He is right, and you, dear reader, are most likely wrong and have been for some time, for that matter.
After thumbing through the pages, wondering what I would make, I stumbled on the section containing the Sazerac. It seems very clear that Embury was not a fan, claiming the drink satisfied neither whiskey fans nor those with a taste for herbsaint or absinthe. He goes so far as to call the drink an old fashioned flavoured with absinthe and to declare that he had never met a Sazerac fanatic, even in Nawlins.
I felt the grate a little on this, being as I am, a Sazerac fanatic. While the taste does perhaps not permit the best of either the base nor modifier to shine through, it is the interplay between them that makes me love this drink. That ordering one requires a bartender to make a little effort and is usually the start of a discussion and a number of drinks. For me, at least, the Sazerac is very much an “enlivening tonic”.
Embury focuses on cutting the corners from the somewhat finnickity practices of the absinthe wash that make a Sazerac so time consuming and offers up this method in its place.
The Lotus Club Special
In a rocks glass, place a sugar cube soaked with three dashes of Peychaud’s bitters, a few drops of absinthe and a small amount of whiskey. Muddle the sugar and stir thoroughly until dissolved. Add a curative measure of Whiskey and stir in ice until the drink is cold and the glass covered in condensate. Garnish with the peel of lemon.
I used the La Perruse 100% cane sugar cubes, about 5mls of Green Fairy absinthe at 75%abv and a slug of about 60mls of Jim Beam Rye Whiskey to make the drink in the picture. It was delicious, a little muddier than the carefully prepared Sazerac, but the time saving means I’ll be doing it again…
I think Mr. Embury ande I are going to have a lot of fun together.