Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology, Vol. 25; Tango Till They’re Sore No. 2

Posted on: October 15, 2010

By way of disclaimer, the closest the Frontier Mixologist has been to Argentina is eating steak with chimichurri sauce.  One can’t help but note, however, that Argentina has suffered a reversal of fortune more upending than what happened to Randolph and Mortimer Duke.  In the late Nineteenth century Argentina was one the world’s ten richest countries.  The newly constructed railroads — built by Italian and Spanish immigrants and funded by British financiers — brought the great wealth of the pampa to port and thence to the world.

Nowadays, after decades of military misrule and disastrous fiscal policies, the Argentine economy is a joke and the country has become a discount traveler’s dream: Europe for a quarter of the cost!  Pity the poor porteños who have to contend with recent US college graduates expats moving down to open a California Burrito Company.  Back in the heady days of its own Belle Époch, Buenos Aires aped much in continental fashion, but its own cultural export was a musical style and accompanying dance that had arisen in Argentina and Uruguay: the tango.
Like jazz in the US, tango music started off as cheap entertainment in seedy brothels, and then developed into a popular musical form, made world-famous for its sensual dance and as the backing for songs by the likes of Carlos Gardel.  Tango’s distinctive feature is an orchestration involving  two bandoneónes, a South American concertina.Tango was a world-wide cultural fad in the 1920s and 30s, and it comes as no surprise that the dance lent its name to a cocktail.  Indeed, to several cocktails.  The best of which is the second formulation from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book.

Tango Cocktail No. 2

¾ oz. dry vermouth

¾ oz. sweet vermouth

¾ oz. Benedictine

¾ oz. light rum

¾ oz. orange juice (fresh-squeezed is a must)

Shake with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a twist if desired.

Even if you’ve never danced the tango, and wouldn’t know how, this is a delicious drink that has a lot going on in it.  The combination of flavors is eye-opening, but the drink itself is fairly light.  It  serves as a great introduction to someone who might not be sure if they like straight up cocktails or thinks she doesn’t like vermouth.

Talk about a potent mix - Stallone & Russell

It is variously reported that Argentina has more psychologists per capita than any other country.  Argentina’s uniquely neurotic national character aside, the claim that dancing the tango has a specifically salutary effect on those suffering from Parkinson’s disease seems a bit suspect.  Putting on Por Una Cabeza and whipping up a couple of Tango No. 2 cocktails, however, is clinically proven to lift one’s spirits.

Drink up,


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