I had the opportunity to try Old Raj gin this past summer at a bar in Ithaca, NY. Though after browsing the cocktail menu and watching the bartender, I knew that I had better play it safe. So I decided I’d ask for a martini with tons of vermouth; “way more than you would ever consider pouring,” I told the young chap behind the bar. I watched him pour haphazardly, stir for about three seconds with as many ice cubes, and plop it into a cocktail glass that looked like I was its first customer in two weeks.
Gretchen saw me staring intently at his every move and I shot her a disapproving glance. “You’re so pompous,” was the only response I got. Nevertheless, “way more vermouth than you would every consider pouring” equals exactly 2 teaspoons. You’d think he’d be happy to save an extra 1/2oz of an expensive gin, but alas, it was not meant to be. That said, my glass of gin was quite tasty, and could have been magical with just a little more vermouth.
With this tale in mind, I cracked open Esquire Drinks for the first time, quickly flipping through for a new cocktail. I wanted one I had never had before – something different, yet familiar. My fingers stopped on page 63, the Hearst. Gin, vermouth, bitters – right out of the Old Waldorf book, it seemed. But wait, was that sweet vermouth? And a whole ounce of it? My heart jumped with joy, and I put my -8F ice to work.
- 2oz gin (I used Blue Coat)
- 1oz sweet vermouth
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 dash Fee’s Aromatic bitters
Stir with crushed ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
From: Esquire Drinks, David Wondrich
So subtle and wonderful. Your nose draws in the aromas of the bitters and the gin, and the first sip is simply beautiful. The sweet vermouth and gin work in such grand harmony that I can’t stop myself from gushing over this cocktail. A clean, clear gin taste lingers as you grab your glass for another sip.
I really struggled with whether or not to include the above picture. The Hearst falls into a category of cocktails that I dread photographing. Muted brown concoctions that while tasty, do nothing for the eye. To make it worse, most of these cocktails don’t have garnishes – not even a lemon peel. Why do you think the cocktail cherry was added to the Manhattan? Though, I will admit that the homemade maraschino cherry that sinks to the bottom of a well-made Manhattan tastes delicious.
I welcome your comments on the photograph. What do you like, what don’t you like? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? My imbibing companions suggested props of some sort, but I’ve never been a fan. A roast chicken with crisp, golden skin, sprinkled gently with thyme does not need a huge iron kettle sitting next to it for effect.