Thanks to everyone who joined me for Food History Happy Hour this month. We talked about all things Irish and food, including the origins of corned beef, Irish soda bread, the Irish Potato Famine, Irish slavery and prejudice, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and the role of brassicas in European and Asian cuisine, and we touched on carageenan or Irish moss pudding, scones and bannocks, Irish coffee, and Irish desserts.
Irish Cocktail (1902)
Tonight's cocktail came from Fox's Bartender's Guide by Richard K. Fox (1902). The 1902 edition was preceded by The Police Gazette Bartender's Guide, first published in 1888, and with a much more interesting cover. Richard K. Fox was the Irish immigrant publisher of The Police Gazette, widely considered the one of the first men's magazines, and which covered tabloid-style sensationalist news, manly (and illegal) sports such as boxing and cockfighting, coverage of vaudeville shows, and "girlie" images of burlesque dancers and other ladies of ill repute.
The cocktail itself is called "Irish" because of the use of Irish whiskey, which also features in several other cocktail recipes. Fox (or whomever was authoring the recipes) seemed rather fond of both absinthe and especially curacao, which feature prominently in most of the cocktail recipes.
I won't replicate my version of this recipe as I made a number of substitutes (some knowingly, some out of ignorance) and the end result was not to my taste. Perhaps your version will be better!
Use large bar glass.
Fill glass with shaved ice.
Two dashes of absinthe. (or anisette)
One dash Maraschino. (the liqueur, not the cherries)
One dash Curacoa. (he means Curacao)
Two dashes bitters.
One wine-glassful of Irish whiskey. (probably 2 ounces)
Stir well with spoon, and after straining in cocktail glass, put in medium olive and squeeze lemon peel on top. (a.k.a. a twist of lemon)
This cocktail took on a rather unappealing hue, in large part because modern Curacao, an orange-flavored liqueur, is colored bright blue (something that apparently dates to the 1920s). But even historically absinthe was green. Thankfully, Maraschino liqueur is clear. But blue, green, and brown (the whiskey) a muddy-looking cocktail make, so keep that in mind.
Episode Sources & Further Reading
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.
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