|Harry Craddock's London Buck - A Summer Classic|
The dog days of summer can be brutal! How does one combat the inhospitable heat and lazy days of late August and still enjoy a fine libation? This type of weather demands refreshing cocktails that should be light, effervescent, and above all thirst quenching. For starters, there should be less alcohol in these drinks and more refreshing modifiers such as fresh citrus juice, sparkling sodas, and fresh fruit. I can wait until mid-September for a Manhattan thank you very much. As summer’s last call approaches (a.k.a Labor Day) we getting our fill of classic seasonal cocktails such as the London Buck.
The Buck is a long drink that was once a summer time staple along with the Collins and Rickey. The Buck is a cousin of the highball cocktail and is generally constructed with a base spirit (such as Whiskey, Gin, Rum), a splash of lemon juice, and ginger ale over ice. The London Buck was created by legendary barman Harry Craddock of the Savoy Hotel Bar during the 1920s and became a Prohibition favorite in the United States.
2 oz Beefeater London dry gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
4 oz pale ginger ale
Tools: jigger, bar spoon, highball or Collins glass
Method: Squeeze a half a lemon into a Collins or highball glass and add then gin. Add large ice cubes and then top off with pale ginger ale, stir and serve. Garnish with lemon wedge.
In recent years, bartenders have pushing the boundary of the classic buck formula by substituting spicy ginger beer or ginger syrup/club soda in lieu of ginger ale. I have also seen other citrus being used, including lime juice and fresh sour mix. Below is a variation I adapted from the London Buck using dry gin's predecessor from across the English Channel – Genever and ginger beer.
2 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz fresh lemon
4 oz Fever Tree ginger beer
Dash of Angostura bitters
Tools: Jigger, bar spoon, highball or Collins glass, Swiss peeler
Method: Squeeze a half a lemon into a Collins or highball glass and add then gin. Add ice cubes and then top off with ginger beer, stir and serve. Garnish with lemon peel.