{drink week} I’m in a Downton State of Mind

Editor’s Note: Drink Week rolls on with Veggie Bouillion star (see Sean’s Three Things Thursday on Punk Domestics!) Gina. She has a two-part piece on drinks, first up, liquor & drinks inspired by Downton Abbey & Boardway Empire. Tomorrow Gina will treat us to a non-corn syrup homemade grenedine & black current syrup for all your drink needs. Gina is a keeper right?! -Christina


Cocktail culture has not been on my radar pretty much ever.  I’m not a big drinker – I’d throw over drinks for dessert any day. However, my inner cocktail geek was released a while back when I was watching Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire.  I realized that Downton was going to be heading to New York, in the early 20s no less, and Boardwalk is already nearby, and in the same time period.  I began to wonder what sorts of drinks these characters might come across at parties and speakeasies, so off to Google I went.

There’s a ton of historical cocktail lore out there, and entire sites with devoted mixologists and cocktail historians.  Please note, nothing I have here for recipes has been in episodes of Downton or Boardwalk, I’m just in a mood-setting frame of mind.  So, hopefully cocktail history and Downton Abbey/Boardwalk Empire pedants will forgive any transgressions I may commit, as I generally refuse to get too torqued up about things that are supposed to be fun!
That said, here are recipes that use two more obscure liquors that I found translated well to a modern palate.  Short version: no raw egg yolks or beef blood here.

Weird liquor number one: Pecsetes Barack Palinka by Zwack, aka Hungarian apricot brandy.
This is not the usual sticky liqueur that most people imagine when they hear “apricot brandy”.  Apricot brandy was used in a good number of old time cocktails, but the general consensus is that it was the very dry eau-de-vie type, and not the syrupy stuff.  Dry apricot brancy can be hard to track down, after loads of frustrating encounters with local liquor stores, I ended up getting mine shipped from Hi Time Wine Cellars in California.  There are a few brands of dry apricot brandy with Marie Brizard Apry and Blume Marillen getting good reviews, but I found I really liked Zwack’s Pecsetes Barack Palinka.   It works out to be about 86 proof, and has the nice aroma and flavor of ripe apricots without any cloying sweetness.  Good stuff!
Weird liquor number two: Pisco
Pisco is a brandy made from grapes and grape must.  There’s a big rivalry between Peru and Chile as to who actually is the inventor and arbiter of All Things Pisco, but I have given my attention to Peru, since they do not dilute or alter the pisco in any way.  From start to finish, there’s a Serious Business commitment to small batches, high quality control, and consistency.  Pisco was much easier to find locally, I had great luck at Empire Wine in Colonie, where I found five different brands of pisco on the shelf the day I went in – both Peruvian and Chilean.  I chose Barsol brand, which is a primero quebranta style pisco.  Oh what a good choice it was!  This is my new favorite *anything*.  I love the very subtle notes (quebranto style is the least aromatic variety), and it’s another dry clear liquor that’s fairly high proof at 80 or so.  My husband’s new malapropism for pisco is “percocet”…


The first recipe comes from The Ideal Bartender, written in 1917 by Tom Bullock , who happened to be the first African American to write a cocktail recipe book!  Mr. Bullock worked at the St. Louis Country Club, and was reknowned for his mixology skills.  His book boasts a foreword by none other than Herbert Walker, grandfather to George Herbert Walker Bush .  The rest are adapted from various websites of modern cocktail historians.
  • Crushed ice
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Shot measure
  • Measuring spoons
  • Chilled glass(es)

DRINK #1: LEAPING FROG – from The Ideal Bartender by Tom Bullock, 1917

1 1/2 oz  Hungarian apricot brandy (I used Pecsetes Barack Palinka by Zwack)
Juice of 1/2  fresh lime
Put ice in shaker, and pour in the apricot brandy and lime juice.  Shake well, strain into chilled glass and serve.  This is one tart drink, and it’s not for sissies either as it’s got some kick to it from the Palinka.  If you like sweeter things, this one isn’t for you, but if you kind of want a little bite, give it a try.


There are lots of different versions, this is what I found tastiest to my palate. It could also work with a good quality sour mix (Wendy had a ‘sour mix’ recipe on Tuesday’s post {Drink week} Fun with Limes).

2 oz Pisco
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2-3/4 teaspoon simple syrup
1 Tablespoon pasteurized egg white
Dash of Angostura Bitters

Put ice in shaker, add Pisco, lime juice, syrup and egg white, cover and shake well.  Strain into chilled glass, and when nice and foamy, garnish with a dash of Angostura Bitters.  This is less bitter than the Leaping Frog, and has a lovely rich foamy top that makes the whole thing feel fancy.  This is one I was wishing for the other day during a particularly hot and humid spell, it’s very bright and refreshing.


My own adaptation, a little less bitter than the original recipes, but not super sweet.  This was my husband’s favorite.  The Pisco-Apricot Tropical was made for Charles Baker Jr. when he visited Peru in the 1920s, the recipe I used as a basis for my own was found on Cocktail Virgin

2 oz Pisco (Bartol pisco is less aromatic, you may want to try to find Macchu Pisco for a different take)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz pineapple juice
1/3 oz Pecsetes Barack Palinka (or other dry apricot brandy or eau-de-vie)
Dash angostura bitters

Put ice in shaker, add pisco, lime juice, pineapple juice, apricot brandy and a dash of angostura bitters.  Shake well, strain and serve in chilled glass.


Word from cocktail historian Dave Wondrich  has it that this was invented for a gentleman of the same name who couldn’t do grain alcohols, and was sick and tired of rum.  This one is my *super-duper, all-time mega favorite.* This recipe is one I’ve tweaked to my tastebuds too, but you can find the original at Dave Wondrich’s Esquire article (look under the Hop Toad recipe).
2 oz Pisco (Barsol was what I used)
1oz dry Hungarian Apricot Brandy (I found Pecsetes Barack Palinka by Zwack, Wondrich mentions Kecscemeti barack palinka, but I couldn’t locate it in the US)
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz homemade grenadine *(stay tuned…recipe tomorrow in part two!)
Put ice in shaker, add all above ingredients, shake well, and pour into chilled glass.

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