To celebrate five days of Charles H. Baker, Jr. cocktails from the Gentleman's Companion, Vol II: The Exotic Drinking Book, I decided on a drink that travels the same way as our protagonist - first class. Mr. Baker describes the cocktail, THE ASTOR HOTEL SPECIAL as" from Shanghai, during a Trip around the word in the Year 1926, & on the occasion of our becoming marooned in that city, with our own ship & personal belongings gone on to HongKong, & with a delightful young maiden by whom we were later rejected in marriage, & who later distinguished herself by espousing a very nice gentleman whose main claim to fame is that he was once kidnapped by Karpis* prior to the latter's entering his suite in Alcatraz."
Can you imagine being "marooned in Shanghai" at, God Forbid - The Astor Hotel? So naturally they went right for the Cognac and Absinthe. Proposed to some dame at the bar (I'm sure there were others)who later became entangled with a victim of the Ma Barker gang. Some life this guy is leading. He is the Indiana Jones of pre-second world war cocktails.
THE ASTOR HOTEL SPECIAL
Cognac, 1 jigger (I used Hennessey VS)
Maraschino, 1 tsp (Luxardo)
Egg white, 2 tsp (in retrospect I should have used a whole small egg)
Absinthe, 1/2 jigger (Pastis 51 instead)
Lemon juice, strained 1/2 tsp (I followed the recipe but 1/4 oz would due)
Club soda (splash at the end)
Shake well with cracked ice, strain into a tall wine goblet (I used a coupe) then top off with chilled soda.
Make no mistake, you taste the 3/4 ounces of anisette flavor regardless if using pastis or absinthe. The cognac takes a back seat. I think more cognac (2 full ounces), lemon and egg white would have embodied the cocktail with a more robust flavor and lessened the effect of the anisette. I like this drink, for sure, however, I wanted a hint of pastis not a full palate of the flavor.
* Karpis - Alvin "Creepy" Karpis (1907 -1979), a member of the notorious Barker gang of the 1930s who kidnapped millionaire William Hamm, a Minnesota brewer. (source: Wikipedia)