Friday, April 05, 2013

Cocktail of the Week: The Dandy

What we have here is a tale of two mixed drinks. Both with the same basic ingredients – rye whiskey, Dubonnet Rouge, triple sec and bitters. The first, the Deshler, is named after a boxer, the second for a fop. The difference is one of balance and attitude. Or in a word: élan.

Don’t let the handle or the peacock tendencies fool you. Dandies are not to be trifled with. In a recent profile, Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said, “Beau Brummell, the original dandy, was defying previous sartorial codes, all that male plumage. He was the grandfather of punk, although he insisted that he wanted to be invisible.” Bolton also cites the Incroyables, the clotheshorses who dressed ostentatiously as a political gesture in response to the Reign of Terror. Albert Camus was even more direct: “The dandy is, by occupation, always in opposition. He can only exist by defiance.” Underneath all that flamboyance there’s a backbone.

I first came across the Dandy in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Official Mixer’s Manual then rediscovered it thanks to the new cocktail edition of Lesley M.M. Blume’s Let’s Bring Back series. The Deshler is the more spirit forward of the two drinks, with the Dandy using rye and Dubonnet in equal parts, making for a more mellow taste. The Dandy also incorporates the densely flavored Angostura bitters instead of the more floral Peychaud’s. These variations may appear subtle, even superficial, but they have a definite impact. I wouldn’t immediately associate these cocktails with one other despite their reliance on identical core elements. It only goes to show what a little style will do.

And let’s not forget the garnish. The Dandy demands both lemon and orange twists. I tried intertwining them. Why two twists? They don’t call it the Dandy for nothing.

The Dandy

1 oz. rye
1 oz. Dubonnet
1 tsp. Cointreau
1 dash of Angostura bitters

Stir. Strain. Garnish with a lemon and an orange twist.