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Friday, June 1, 2012

Vintage Happy Hour with Jenny Q: The Knickerbocker

For this week's Vintage Happy Hour, I was looking for a good summertime cocktail, and one that would help us celebrate our newest release: Dora Deane by Mary Jane Holmes. I needed something that would have been popular in 1858, when Dora Deane was first published, and since the novel takes place in the world of affluent New York country estate owners, I was also hoping to find a beverage that tied in to New York's history as well. As luck would have it, I happened upon the perfect drink, one that satisfied all of my requirements and also happens to be deliciously refreshing: The Knickerbocker.

Knickerbocker is a Dutch surname that took on popular culture status in 1809 when Washington Irving published A History of New-York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, a satire on self-important local history and contemporary politics, featuring a fictitious narrator by the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker. Knickerbocker had long been a term used for New York aristocrats, and the immediate popularity of the book with New Yorkers, quickly led to "Knickerbockers" taking on a meaning that encompassed all New Yorkers.

The Knickerbocker cocktail dates back to at least the 1850s and was one of the original recipes featured in New York bartender Jerry Thomas's The Bar-Tender's Guide (also known as The Bon-Vivant's Companion) in 1862, the first drink book published in the United States.

As with all cocktails, recipe variations exist, but drink experts agree on the ingredients of the original Knickerbocker. This recipe comes from Esquire Magazine's "resident cocktail historian," David Wondrich:

2 1/2 ounces golden rum
1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry syrup
1/2 teaspoon orange curacao
1/2 ounce lime juice

It should be shaken with crushed ice and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with a twist of lime peel. (Wondrich's recipe calls for it to be served in an old-fashioned glass, but most other sources call for a "cocktail" or martini glass.) Some bartenders note that Chambord may be substituted for the raspberry syrup.

Sounds delicious, doesn't it? It also sounds like just the type of drink New York aristocrat Howard Hastings, the hero of Dora Deane, might have enjoyed while watching the sunset from his garden balcony after a long summer's day on his beloved estate of Rose Hill. And since I love Chambord so much, this sounds like something I may have to make this weekend after a long summer's day of lounging in the pool! Cheers!

Drink Photo Credit:

Dora Deane by Mary Jane Holmes
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