The Astor Hotel Special

The Gentleman’s Companion Volume II: The Exotic Drinking Book lists many recipes that contain raw eggs, including many modern recipes that have since omitted them. A well-shaken egg changes the texture of the drink, adding a bit of foamy creaminess to it, and in the case of a yolk, a richness that only a golden orb of protein can provide. I won’t get into the science of it, as Wikipedia has done a nice job for me.

The first Astor Hotel Special I mixed up had an interesting aroma to it; not one of those “let’s analyze all this interesting complexity,” but more of a “maybe this egg isn’t very fresh” aroma. Although it tasted just fine, I went back to examine the egg white I had sloshed around a bit in a bowl, and sure enough, it had a bit of a funky odor. I simply dumped out the egg and my drink, washed out my glass and my boston shaker, and cracked open another egg in a new bowl. I made a point of observing its fresh non-smell.

Consuming raw eggs or any other foods may make some of you a bit squeamish, but the possibility of getting a foodborne illness (e.g. salmonella) from a properly refrigerated and fresh egg is negligable. Well, at least that’s how I look at it. There’s nothing you could tell me about the safety of beef cured in salt, sugar, orange juice, soy sauce, chile, cracked peppercorns, mint, vodka, ginger, and star anise that would keep me from loving every bite. Hell, I’d even try the lightly boiled turkey sashimi that Iron Chef Michiba delicated waved in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds. I have had food poisoning before, and I’m willing to take that risk in the pursuit of good food and drink. Plus, the chance of getting salmonella from a properly refrigerated and fresh egg is something like 1 in a billion. But that’s not an official stat. If I were to back it up with data, you may, in your newfound raw-egg-safety glee, go out and consume a carton of them. And this would probably leave you with a sick stomach anyway.

The Astor Hotel Special

  • 1 1/2oz cognac
  • 1tsp maraschino liqueuer
  • 2tsp egg white
  • 3/4oz Pernod
  • 1/2tsp lemon juice
  • club soda

From: The Gentleman’s Companion Volume II – An Exotic Drinking Book, Charles H. Baker, Jr.


If I had to compare this to another cocktail; I’d say it is a mild version of The Calcutta. This makes little sense, however, since the only common ingredients are Pernod and egg white. The original recipe calls for Absinthe instead of Pernod, so I will post an update when I try it with Absente, which I hope to snag a bottle of this week. If someone handed me this cocktail in a beer mug, I’d probably mistake it for a hefeweizen, as it looks nearly identical. The aroma is strangely caramelized, and the overall flavor is rather interesting, and rather hard to put a finger on.


Charles H. Baker, Jr. sipped this cocktail first in Shanghai during a trip around the world, and I strongly believe he had imbibed at least seven of them before authoring the history of the drink. I could try to make sense of the writing, but it would probably offer little insight.

3 Responses to “The Astor Hotel Special”

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Comments to “ The Astor Hotel Special”
  1. Stone-Lord JoeNo Gravatar says:

    The straight up truth is that the fresher it is, the better. If you can get an egg striaght from the chicken’s butt, it is almost certain to not make you ill. The longer it sits out, the greater the chance of illness increases. Now, refrigeration slows this process, but it still can occur. Basically, if you plan on eating raw eggs (or raw anything) get the freshest you possibly can. This may mean getting a six-pack of eggs every few days, instead of 2 18-packs every month (as I am wont to do), but such is the way of the world. Also note: salmonella lives on the shell of the egg, so avoid shell contamination as much as possible (this is why, after reading one very illustrative cookbook whose name now escapes me, I no longer crack eggs on the edge of the bowl, but on the counter instead: “Do you really want to drive all the shell shrapnel up into your egg?”

    As for your beef curing, the key here, is that you cured it in salt. Curing things in salt kills
    nearly every bacteria you can imagine…hence why sailors could keep salt-cured meat on their ship even months and months into their voyage without any refrigeration.

    And for the Iron Chef turkey issue, again, my bet is that that turkey died no more than an hour before he used it. Remember, our bodies are designed to eat raw meat (we invented that fire thing much later on), but raw meat we just killed (we invented that refrigeration thing even later).

    Looks like a tasty beverage.

  2. EricNo Gravatar says:

    Remind me to not eat anything that comes out of a chicken’s butt – no matter how fresh…

  3. Kim says:


    Lookks like your page was heavily hit by spam

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



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.