Friday, March 21, 2014

Cocktail of the Week: The Honeymoon

Nothing like paging through an old cocktail book and chancing upon a drink that sounds like it would suit your palate – and for which you possess all the ingredients. The quencher in question is the Honeymoon, the tome Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Official Mixer’s Manual. Only it isn’t.

The Honeymoon is one of a host of cocktails that first appears in a 1916 book with the pedestrian title Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Hugo Ensslin. Ensslin toiled behind the stick at the Wallick House in Times Square, described by David Wondrich in Imbibe! as “one of New York’s second-rank hotels.” While Ensslin may have lacked the chops to “earn him a place in the oral tradition of New York bar lore,” he performed a far greater service. He recorded how bartenders prepared drinks in the period prior to Prohibition, knowledge that would have otherwise been lost. Among the cocktails he preserved for posterity are the Aviation and the Deshler. The treasure trove of tipples he left behind greatly influenced Duffy and Harry Craddock of The Savoy Cocktail Book fame, both of whom plundered Recipes wholesale.

Despite its New York origins, the Honeymoon became a fixture on menus at Los Angeles’ Brown Derby restaurants, an impressive accomplishment considering they had their own signature cocktail. There’s a drink with the identical recipe called the Farmer’s Daughter. I want to say it’s named after the funky chalet-style hotel on Fairfax, but the dates don’t work.

An apple brandy sour with dual sweeteners, the Honeymoon has partisans who insist it be made with calvados. No doubt that’s an impressive version, but bonded applejack hasn’t disappointed me in this drink yet. The spirit-forward recipe below is from Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book. The apple’s crispness predominates, but is pleasantly modified by notes of citrus and a potent blast of sweetness courtesy of Bénédictine resulting in a fuller, rosier flavor. The Honeymoon is a blushing bride of a cocktail, a smart, tart beverage worthy of the attention given to many of the other drinks Hugo Ensslin remembered for us.

The Honeymoon

2 oz. apple brandy
½ oz. orange curaçao
½ oz. Bénédictine
½ oz. lemon juice

Shake. Strain. No garnish.

Want more Cocktail of the Week? The first fifty-two essays are available in the Kindle bestseller DOWN THE HATCH: ONE MAN’S ONE YEAR ODYSSEY THROUGH CLASSIC COCKTAIL RECIPES AND LORE. Buy it now at