I learned with The Drunken Botanist that if you serve cocktails, people totally show up to your book tour events! In Girl Waits with Gun, my new novel based on the real adventures of one of the nation’s first female detectives, Constance Kopp and her sisters are not really drinkers (although I have my suspicious about what the youngest, Fleurette, got up to when she was a bit older), but I still wanted to come up with a good drink to serve at book club gatherings and bookstore events.
I had a few criteria: The ingredients had to be easy to find, they had to have been available back in 1914, when Girl Waits with Gun takes place, and they couldn’t require too much fancy preparation. No long infusions, complicated garnishes, or flaming orange peels. Ideally, it would be the kind of drink that could be batched ahead of time, before the party starts.
If at all possible, I wanted the drink to be based on something people were actually drinking back in 1914, so I turned to vintage cocktail books. And . . . if this wasn’t asking too much . . . I also hoped I’d find something with a clever name that tied into some theme in the book.
I had some faint hope of finding a cocktail called The Messenger Pigeon, since Norma Kopp keeps pigeons in the novel, but no such luck. Anything to do with guns or revolvers might have worked, but I didn’t turn up much. Finally I discovered a drink called The Automobile. Perfect, I thought! The book starts with a car crash, so this’ll do nicely.
There was only one problem. The drink was terrible. It called for equal parts gin, Scotch, and sweet vermouth, and believe me, that is not a combination you want to experience. But I knew this drink could be improved.
The Scotch overwhelmed the drink, so I replaced it with applejack, a New Jersey spirit. It was still a little dry, so I added a spoonful of jam, jam being an ingredient that was definitely available in 1914, even if it wasn’t used in cocktails much. It’s trendy today to add jam or marmalade to cocktails, because it adds some sugar, some fruit, and some gorgeous color to drinks. So the drink was working pretty well, and then I topped it off with Champagne—because everything’s better with Champagne—and that’s the recipe you see here. I invited some friends over, gave it a test run, and got everyone’s approval.
I’m calling it the New Jersey Automobile. Cheers!
½ ounce applejack
½ ounce gin
½ ounce sweet vermouth
½ ounce blackberry jam
4 ounces sparkling wine
1. Combine applejack, gin, vermouth and jam in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.
2. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and divide between two champagne coupes. Top with two ounces sparkling wine.
3. To mix for a crowd: Combine equal parts of applejack, gin, vermouth and jam in a large pitcher. Stir with ice, then strain through a fine sieve. When guests arrive, pour one ounce of the mixture into each champagne coupe and top with two ounces sparkling wine.
Servings : 2
Ready in : 10 Minutes