Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology, vol. 1: The Chauncey Cocktail

Posted on: April 16, 2010

(Come for the drinks, Stay for the music)

Much like the abdication of Emperor Charles V, the Chauncey Cocktail is unknown to most yet reviled by many of those who are aware of it. This is a shame because it’s a great cocktail.

On the rare occasion when the Chauncey is discussed, such mention is usually in the context of either the cocktail’s (a) booziness or its (b) affordability. To my mind, these characteristics are assets both.
Now, I was at a fancy-ass cocktail bar in New York, and in speaking with the barman I remarked on my affection for the Chauncey. I got the sense that he pegged me for a rube, no doubt due to the fact that, admittedly, mixing rye, gin, and brandy sets one off in the direction of a Long Island Iced Tea. I urge you, however, to give this drink a chance.
A proper Chauncey Cocktail:
¾ oz. rye whiskey
¾ oz. gin
½ oz. brandy
½ oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Combine in an ice-filled mixing glass, stir the crap out of it, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The reason I chose this drink as the first entry is because it shows off what a real cocktail should do. To wit, transform base spirits, which if served on their own wouldn’t garner much mention, into something altogether different. I’d describe it as a synergy if that term hadn’t been so debased by corporate strategists. Further, although improved with premium spirits, it can be made well with rather affordable offerings – it has been calculated to cost $1.05, not bad for a drink that’ll set you up right. I do recommend a good sweet vermouth though, such as Cinzano or, better still, Carpano Antica.
I tried a variation last night in which I used aromatic bitters (Bitter Truth’s Jerry Thomas Bitters), and, I must say, it was not improved. I’d stick with the orange bitters; I like Regan’s. If you don’t have orange bitters, you can just leave them out.
Drink up,
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