Friday, March 25, 2011

Maiden's Blush

Here's a drink I found in Charlie Paul's Recipes of American and other Iced Drinks. As is often the case, when I started digging into the history on this one I found it to be a bit of a sticky wicket.

Harry Craddock's 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, (from the Savoy Hotel Bar in London) is often given credit for this drink. Modern references, such as found in the current Mr. Boston, do seem to reflect this recipe more than the original late nineteenth century versions.

Maiden’s Blush Cocktail No. 1 (Savoy 1930)

1 Dash Lemon Juice.
4 Dashes Orange Curacao.
4 Dashes Grenadine.
1 Glass Dry Gin.

The true original recipe was in the ultra rare 1886 French title Bariana, by Louis Fouquet. (Which is thought to be the earliest French book dedicated to cocktails.

from Bariana, Louis Fouquet, 1886
Translation: "Take a silver cup (mixing tins), ice chunks, half teaspoon of powdered sugar, a spoonful of raspberry syrup, juice of half a lemon, a glass of absinthe liqueur white, 1 half glass of old tom gin, finish with a little water, knock (shake), pass (strain), pour, lemon slice and serve."

The drink must have had its followers, as though it is not in every book, it pops up here and there in many titles throughout the early twentieth century, and even continues to makes appearances to this day. 

In Harry McElhone's 1927 title Barflies and Cocktails the recipe is present mainly in name only, maybe slightly more in the spirit of the original than the Savoy, but I can see why the Savoy is allowed more credit for this one. (This sounds like a very stiff drink!)

from Barflies and Cocktails, Harry McElhone, 1927

Recipes published in 1936 and 1937 though seem to match much more closely with earlier recipes.

In 1937, also from London, you have Billy Tarling's recipe in the Cafe Royale Cocktail Book. The only difference here is the calling for Dry Gin. (By the late 1930's Old Tom gin had been uncommon for some time.) 

from Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, W.J. Tarling, 1937
In 1936, Frank Meier of the Ritz Bar in Paris published this version:

from Artistry of Mixing Drinks, Frank Meier, 1936

"Maiden's Blush" was also the name of a style of colored glass common around the turn of the twentieth century. (This goblet was made by US Glass around 1901.)

We have the Savoy from 1930 London most commonly given credit, and which is the recipe most commonly quoted today. Six to seven years after the Savoy was printed though, we have other recipes popping up that seem much closer to this recipe, from Charlie Paul's 1902 publication (but originally published around 1885-1887!) Recipes of American and other Iced Drinks, which was also printed in London...

So, after all the does Charlie Paul's recipe hold up? 

from Recipes of American and other Iced Drinks, Charlie Paul, circa 1885

Maiden's Blush

1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) Old Tom Gin (Hayman's)
3/4 (22 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) raspberry syrup
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) absinthe (Kubler)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) powdered sugar

Shake with cracked ice, strain into "Maiden's Blush" colored goblet (if you have one of course) - garnish with slice of lemon on top.

Usually when a recipe is spot on, it stays fairly true to form over the years. The fact that this one has varied so much gave me pause. I've even heard this described as a "large glass of gin". I tried it with a 2 oz measure of gin, as well as with a 1 1/2 ounce measure and the difference was extreme. The 2 ounce measure was hugely gin forward, and indeed, "large glass of gin" seemed an appropriate description.

The 1 1/2 ounce measure was a completely different drink though. It was light, sweet and tart, with just a touch of the herbals from the absinthe and a "blush"of raspberry was all in balance.

A delicate libation much more worthy of its namesake, an insidious drink that could possibly lead to a maiden's blush...

1 comment:

  1. Hello
    I found an interesting information about the "Maiden's Blush" cocktail
    1922 - Cocktails-How to Mix Them by Robert Vermeire
    Maiden's Blush
    Fill the shaker half full of broken ice and add:
    1 tablespoonful of the Grenadines.
    2 dashes of Oxigeénée.
    1/2 gill of Gin.
    Shake well and strain into a small wine-glass.
    (Recipe by Mr. Frank Newman, Paris.)

    The author of the cookbook 1900 - American Bar - Frank Newman
    Hello Lucio Tucci