After another year of the COVID rollercoaster, many are looking forward to a good stiff cocktail this New Year’s Eve. For Downton Abbey fans looking forward to another movie coming in March, this is a great time to try themed cocktails to celebrate.
Americans get credit for the term cocktail as a beverage, which appeared in The Farmers Cabinet, 1803. Traditionally, cocktail ingredients included spirits, sugar, water and bitters, however, this definition evolved throughout the 1800s, to include the addition of a liqueur. Cocktails continued to evolve and gain popularity throughout the 1900s, and in 1917 the term “cocktail party” was coined by Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri.
In the UK, English lords spent much time in London during The Season when Parliament was in session. In the evenings they often enjoyed socializing at renowned dining establishments such as the Savoy. Mixed drinks were a rarity at their country houses, but in London, the rich could sample signature cocktails concocted by inspired mixologists. Harry Craddock, an American barman, travelled to London during Prohibition in the 1920s and worked at the Savoy. He later wrote down many of their legendary recipes which are contained in his book The Savoy Cocktail Book.
You may recall that it was sometime before cocktails were served at Downton Abbey. Mary once warned Sir Richard: “I could ask Carson to make one for you, but I can’t guarantee the result.” It wasn’t until Season 5 that Rose brought the cocktail party to Downton.
Downton Abbey Cocktail
- 1/2 large lime juiced
- 3 parts Hendricks Gin
- 2 parts St. Germain
- 1 splash Champagne or Sparkling Wine
- 1 rind lemon garnish
- Fill cocktail shaker with ice, and add the lime juice.
- Add gin and St. Germain and shake.
- Pour into the martini glass and top with the champagne.
- Add the lemon twist
The Dowager Countess Cocktail
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 3 dashes Fernet Branca
- 1 1/2 ounces club soda chilled
- 1 twist Orange peel for garnish
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet Branca. Stir until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with club soda.
- Run the orange peel's orange side along the glass and twist to express the oils. Drop into the glass or perch on the edge of the glass.
The Lady Mary Cocktail
- 1 flute glass
- 1.5 ounces Lillet Blanc
- .75 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 4 to 5 fresh basil leaves
- 1 splash Brut champagne chilled
- Add the basil and lemon juice to your shaker and muddle. Add Lillet and ice and then shake and strain into a flute. Top with champagne.
The Bittersweet Bates Cocktail
- 1 ounce Amaro Nonino
- 1 ounce Pedro Ximenez Sherry
- Orange bitters
- Orange peel
- In a short glass filled with cracked ice, add the Amaro Nonino, the sherry and a couple of dashes of orange bitters. (Angostura bitters works well here too.)
- Twist the orange peel to express its oils into the glass then drop it in as a garnish.
- Champagne or sparkling wines would be a great celebratory drink to toast each of the 16 categories.
- Madeira: Edwardians loved Madeira, for any fortified wine (sherry, brandy) would be a fitting tribute to the Dowager Countess.
- Wine: a great choice.
- Scotch: a favourite of the Crawley men, single malt for an upstairs crowd.
- Pimm’s: a popular drink in the UK (derived from gin), but might be more suitable for the summer. If you do live in the lower States it might be suitable as a thirst quencher. Check out my Pimm’s Punch recipe, my favourite.