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.

The Picture

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.

9 Responses to “Hearst”

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9 Comments to “ Hearst”
  1. PhilNo Gravatar says:

    Very nice, how you subtly taunt everyone with the fact that you have a access to Blue Coat.

    I bought the Esquire book a couple weeks ago, at your suggestion, so thanks. I noticed the Hearst and have been itching to try it.

    On the photo, I think it’s lovely and see it as a brown-orangy-red, not as a muted brown. I think that the few surface-tension bubbles on the edge serve the same visual part as a garnish would, at least in a picture. The projection of the color of the drink at the bottom of the stem adds also. I’ve thought about doing a shot with a strong, white spot light that would shine through the drink and project it’s color onto the white surface below.

  2. Yer spoiled with all those lovely tiki cocktails and garnishes…

    Think Citizen Kane and Film Noir! Angles, closeups and contrast!

  3. AndyNo Gravatar says:

    The Hearst has been a favorite around here for some time, it’s definitely in my regular rotation. I typically like to go with more flavorful bitters like Regans and Angostura, though I’ll have to check it with the Fee’s. One thing I -always- do, though, is garnish with a lemon peel. Teriffic drink.

  4. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    Rick, I think you and I must have some “Bizarro-world” relationship. I had one of the BEST Martinis I’ve ever had in Ithaca…also made with Old Raj!

    Anyway, this is definitely another recipe I’ll be trying (but not with Bluecoat..I can’t stomach the stuff). Also, would Angostura be an acceptable substitute for the Fee’s aromatic? I haven’t put in my order with the Brothers Fee yet.

    Oh, and the photo looks great. But then again, I’m from the “less is more” school.

  5. RickNo Gravatar says:


    You can’t stomach Blue Coat?! What is the world coming to? :)

    Do you remember the name of the bar in Ithaca?


    Glad to hear you picked up Esquire Drinks; isn’t it lovely? Unfortunately, having access to Blue Coat doesn’t make up for the lack of access to about 50 other fine spirits.

    The Bitters,
    A few comments about the brand of bitters to use. I’d say use either Angostura and Fee’s Aromatic – some cocktails benefit from one slightly better than the other, but you’re not going to spoil the cocktail using either one. Same with Regan’s orange vs. Fee’s orange. You can take a look at Mixology Monday – Bitter Comparison I for more detailed info.

    I’d love suggestions for what you’d like to see in part II.

  6. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    The place where I had the great Martini was a fantastic Italian restaurant called “ZaZa’s Cucina”. You can get a pretty good idea of the place from their site:


    My wife and I liked it so much we ate there 2 nights in a row. And it’s where I discovered Old Raj!

  7. Wait a sec…

    Minus 8 ice?!

    How does that happen? Do you just have your freezer turned way down?

    And yes, I’ve gotten that same, “You’re so pompous,” from my significant other.

  8. RickNo Gravatar says:

    We got one of those newfangled LG refrigerators when we bought our house. The freezer goes down to -8F. I consider this a huge boon to my cocktail making and would recommend the fridge to anyone looking to get a new one.

    The disadvantage of this temperature is that it takes forever to thaw stuff (not that we use much frozen stuff).

    It has a crushed ice setting too that emulates perfectly cracked ice.

  9. Benjamin WangNo Gravatar says:

    Fresh New Take on a Classic: Partida Margarita

    Dear Kaiser Penguin,

    Your site is great. The articles have lots of helpful information. I would like to introduce you to a great brand of tequila.

    Partida Tequila is reinventing America’s favorite cocktail with the Partida Margarita. Here’s why your readers will want to know about the Partida Margarita:
    – It has fewer calories than the traditional Margarita.
    – It’s easy to make.
    – It’s made with 100% organic agave nectar for pure agave taste.
    – It has less alcohol than the traditional Margarita.
    Most importantly, the Partida Margarita is the best tasting Margarita ever. What’s in a Partida Tequila Margarita?
    – 1 oz. lime juice (app. the juice from one lime)
    – ¾ oz. pure, organic Partida Agave Nectar
    – ¾ oz. pure spring water
    Р1.5 oz. Partida Tequila Blanco, Reposado or A̱ejo

    Wouldn’t this make a great drink heading into Cinco de Mayo and the summer?

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

Why on Earth did you name your blog “Kaiser Penguin?”

It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.

Contact: rick@kaiserpenguin.com