Friday, April 18, 2014

Cocktail of the Week: The Millionaire (Whiskey)

Picking up where we left off last week, now that the tax man has come and gone ...

The 1920s produced a yacht club’s worth of cocktails called the Millionaire. Trouble is, in the words of spirits historian David Wondrich, “most of ‘em sucked.” Wondrich sticks to the earliest known recipe to lay claim to the moneyed moniker, born in London’s swank Ritz Hotel around the time of Prohibition and consisting of rye, Grand Marnier, grenadine and egg white. Over the years substitutions have been made, like bourbon for rye, framboise liqueur in place of the grenadine or a less domineering orange flavor than the Marnier. Two additions have also become commonplace. While David Embury said the original recipe “produces a very satisfactory drink, in my opinion it is improved by a small quantity of lemon juice.” He also didn’t look askance on a dash of absinthe.

Today’s avatar of wealth is Donald Trump, not Andrew Carnegie, so my Millionaire would be gaudy, complete with all the golden bells and silver whistles. I opted for bourbon as a change of pace from my usual rye, with curaçao as the orange component. Some recipes prescribe rinsing the cocktail glass with absinthe as well as including a small amount in the mix. I’m not a millionaire, so I used Pernod instead. I recommend the rinse only; adding some to the drink hits that note too hard.

Embury, as usual, was on the money. Lemon juice is essential, providing a welcome countervailing element to the egg white. There’s a rich sweetness to this drink that puts it squarely in the after-dinner category. Given a choice, I prefer last week’s Millionaire. But I can’t see any one-percenters ordering either one. They’re more a single malt Scotch crowd.

The Millionaire (Whiskey)

2 oz. rye (or bourbon)
½ oz. curaçao
½ oz. lemon juice
2-3 dashes grenadine
egg white
dash of absinthe (or Pernod)

Combine the first five ingredients. Shake without ice, then with. Strain into a cocktail glass rinsed or misted with absinthe (or Pernod).

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