Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Hamlet Cocktails

Allow me to subject you to a bit of revisionism.  When I first stumbled on the preliminary "Hamlet's Cocktail" (equal parts aquavit, Cherry Heering, and Cynar, stirred well) it seemed that I'd found a classic yet apparently original combination.  As often happens, I took to tinkering, and found that the savory herb-cherry-bitters profile could be adapted into a number of cocktails.  Here are four renditions, one for each season, together demonstrating how a cocktail can be riffed on to produce seasonal specialties.

The King's Ghost (spring version)
Hamlet's meeting of his father's ghost is the opening scene of the play, so it seemed only appropriate to include the ectoplasm-colored absinthe in this one.

1 1/4 oz aquavit (North Shore is my preference here; use the clear Aalborg if you must)
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Luxardo
1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 dash orange bitters

Rinse a small bar glass with absinthe and toss out the remainder; set this in the chiller to "season" as with the classic Sazerac.  Stir the above over ice and strain into the seasoned glass, then fill up with fresh ice.  Garnish with an orange twist.

Flowers From Ophelia (summer version)
I just really like this name.  Ophelia's a bit crazy and this one is too, though it makes a fine summer tonic.

1 1/4 oz aquavit (Aalborg is actually perfect here)
1/4 oz kirschwasser
1/2 oz Luxardo
1/2 oz orange curacao
1/2 oz Aperol (could use Campari in a pinch)

Pour the above over large ice cubes in a large Collins glass and fill up with soda water.  Garnish with a couple of orange half-wheels inserted into the drink, plus an edible flower on top if you're feeling pretentious.

That Sleep of Death (fall version)
Somewhat morbidly titled, but hey, Hamlet is a tragedy.  This is closest to the original in construction, with minor modifications.

1 1/2 oz aquavit (North Shore, please; your best substitute is Linie for this one)
1 1/4 oz Cherry Heering
3/4 oz Cynar

Stir the above well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a flamed orange coin.

Alas, Poor Yorick (winter version)
A few of these would be enough to kill just about any clown (look it up, kids).

2 oz aquavit (Linie is most appropriate here)
1 1/2 oz Cherry Heering
10 dashes Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters
1 dash orange curacao (optional, honestly)

Stir gently (you don't want this one too cold) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a brandied cherry (carved into the shape of a skull if you can manage it) and a bit of fresh-grated nutmeg.

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