When thinking about this week’s Friday Cocktail I thought it would be fun challenge myself to use ingredients we have on hand just about all the time. Yes, daiquiri’s are great, and margaritas are wonderful in the summer, but rum and tequila are not regulars in our bar cart. It was with this challenge in mind that I came upon the Fourth Degree.
The original recipe can be found in the Savoy Cocktail Book (and here). It is a strange yet wonderful cocktail that is so much more than the sum of its parts. The recipe sounds strange- mixing two kinds of vermouth, gin, and some absinthe. It sounds a bit like someone poured some ingredients into a glass at random, gave it a good shake, and called it a drink. The juniper in the gin, the anise in the absinthe, and the sweetness in the vermouth would surely clash, right? Wrong.
Pushing my idea that this could not possibly be good aside, I decided to go ahead and give it a try, carefully measuring each ingredient. The only problem was the absinthe- the Savoy recipe calls for four dashes, but with a standard bottle I had no idea exactly how to measure this, so I added good-sized splash, which, as it turned out, was a bit too much. The result was nice, but definitely overpowered with absinthe. I decided to try again, adding just enough absinthe to cover the bottom of the measuring glass of my Boston shaker. This time it worked- everything melded perfectly to make a drink that was a bit of everything, and also completely new and exciting.
• 3/4 oz dry gin
• 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
• 3/4 oz dry vermouth
• splash of absinthe
1. Combine ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake vigorously
2. Strain and garnish with a citrus peel (I used lime, but lemon would be lovely)
The absinthe is definitely present, though perhaps more on the nose, and the gin provides a surprisingly nice backdrop for the sweet and bitter flavors in the vermouth to mingle. The resulting cocktail is herbal, but with a hint of cherry, tasting not quite like anything else I’ve had.
After making a few of these I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a cocktail that takes a short while to make fairly well, but a great deal longer to perfect. Precision is important here, as even a slight change in proportion will change the drink entirely, but its worth it. I’m definitely looking forward to perfecting this recipe, or at least making it my own.