The Spirit: Forgotten Classics

This feature appeared in the August 2012 issue of Australian Bartender

By Simon McGoram

Photography by Brandy Meier

“The Puritan at first glance looks austere enough, but under closer examination it appears as if it’s the carnal product of an Alaska cocktail and a dry Martini”

It was some time ago that I realised that the trade of bartending appeals to the nerd in many of us. Bartending is a craft that has a lot of lost lore – an art that despite the numerous cocktail books printed over the last 150 years has only recently been rediscovered in full. Barkeeps love collecting rare bottlings of spirits, purchasing obscure cocktail tomes and unearthing forgotten classics.


I must admit that there is a certain thrill to be had in recreating a recipe that hasn’t been made in years and not just so I can test out the knowledge of a barkeep from a neighbouring bar. You see cocktails are a form of liquid history – they not only give us an insight into the psyche of the bartenders who created but a quick snapshot of the society who drank them to boot.

There have been many great classic recipes, forgotten classics and original cocktails printed in the pages over the years and it does become a challenge to present new material to you. These forgotten classics are no definitive list but rather an interesting selection to set you in good stead for the coming month. Happy mixing!


On October 4, 1957, the Space Age officially began when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first human-created device to enter space. It was a time when the space race was heated and the Cold War was getting, well… colder. The launch caused considerable consternation on this side of the Iron Curtain as many feared that the Soviet Union would use satellites as a platform to launch nuclear missiles from space against USA and its allies.

According to Martin J. Collins, author of After Sputnik: 50 Years of the Space Age, despite growing fears of war in America, restaurants and bars capitalised on the Sputnik phenomenon with Russian themed food and drink. Bartenders produced Sputnik cocktails made with Russian vodka in reply to the popular joke that an American Sputnik cocktail should be “one part vodka and three parts sour grapes”.

One recipe that has lived on creating contains vodka as well as a liberal splash of a fairly fearsome liquid called Fernet Branca – an intensely bitter Italian amaro with a cult following. Use a crisp wheat vodka for this beverage – Ketel One works a treat. It ain’t Russian, but neither is the Sputnik cocktail.


Sputnik (circa 1957)

45ml Ketel One Vodka
15ml Fernet Branca
15ml Lemon juice
½ teaspoon castor sugar

Add all ingredients into a shaker. Shake hard enough to launch yourself into space and double strain into chill cocktail glass. No garnish.

Mamie Taylor (circa 1889)

Mamie Taylor is not a name you’re likely to forget. But forget it we bartenders did. Taylor was a popular operatic singer and actor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the US. It was a popular naming convention at the time to name drinks after stage plays, actors and singers with Mamie being no exception. The drink that bears her name is a tall refreshing blend of Scotch whisky, lime juice and ginger beer.

A popular story about this drink’s creation comes from the March 7, 1902 edition of The Post Standard – a paper based out of Syracuse, NY.

“It was while Miss Taylor was the prima donna of an opera company playing at Ontario Beach, near Rochester, in 1899… she was asked with a number of other members of the company to go out sailing on the lake. As the day was hot and the breeze rather strong, the party returned after a few hours longing for some cooling refreshments. When Miss Taylor was asked what she would have she expressed the wish for a long but not strong drink-in fact, a claret lemonade. When the drink was served it was very evident that it wasn’t a claret lemonade, for it looked like a delicious long drink of sparkling champagne. On tasting it Miss Taylor found it much to her liking, but asked to have the flavor softened with a piece of lemon peel. When this was done the new combination drink was declared a complete success. Bystanders had been watching the proceedings and noticing the evident enjoyment with which Miss Taylor and a few of her friends relished in new drink they finally asked the hotel keeper what drink it was that was being served to them and without hesitation the hotel man replied “a Mamie Taylor”…”

The drink was popular right across the States until Prohibition. Following Repeal, this very refreshing beverage unfortunately never took off again – more the shame.


Mamie Taylor
60ml Cutty Sark Blended Scotch whisky
20ml lime juice
Ginger beer to top
Add your Scotch and lime juice to a highball glass. Add ice and fill with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Pan American Clipper (circa 1939)

The Pan American Clipper is the long lost aeronautical cousin to fine tipples like the Aviation and the Airmail. The Pan American World Airways (commonly known as Pan Am) was the principal and largest international air carrier in the US from 1927 until 1991. Pan Am was a company that revolutionised the aeronautical industry with their scheduled airmail and passenger services and early and widespread of adoption of jet aircraft, jumbo jets, and computerised reservation systems.

Pan Am used the word ‘Clipper’ – a very fast square rigged sailing ship of the 19th century – in all their aircraft names and call signs. And it’s one of the few more logical and sensible mixes you’ll find in Charles H Baker Jr.’s The Gentleman’s Companion from 1939. Baker is even kind enough to shed a little light for us on where this drink came from saying it’s “From the Notebook of One of Our Pilot Friends Who-when Off Duty-May Seek One.”

The drink itself is not dissimilar to a Jack Rose combing applejack, lime and grenadine with just a dash of absinthe. Paul Clarke the creator of describes the drink as; “a Jack Rose with an attitude”. And I have to say he’s on the money.


Pan American Clipper
50ml Laird’s 7½ year old apple brandy
20ml lime juice
10ml real pomegranate grenadine
2 dashes absinthe

Add all ingredients to a shaker, ice and shake at a fast clip. Double strain into a mightily cold coupe glass. Finish with a lime zest.

Frisco Sour

Frisco – it’s a rather objectionable nickname for an otherwise agreeable city called San Francisco. According to Paul Harrington’s Cocktail: The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century, in 1907 – just a year after a formidable earthquake had devastated San Francisco – a group of women from the Ladies Outdoor Art League of San Francisco formed an Anti-Frisco committee, labelling the nickname for the city “obnoxious,” and seeking to have the term eradicated.

Unfortunately the ladies of the Anti-Frisco committee didn’t fully succeed – thanks in no small part to a cocktail bearing this moniker. We’re not entirely sure when this cocktail was first penned, but ‘Cocktail Bill’ Boothby World Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em, 1934 edition seems to contain one of the earlier references.

The Frisco appears both as a cocktail and as a sour throughout various texts. We’ve gone for the sour variant here opting for rye over bourbon too as commonly appears in many cocktail guides.

Frisco Sour
50ml Rittenhouse 100 Proof Straight Rye whiskey
20ml DOM Benedictine
15ml lemon juice
7.5ml lime juice

Add all ingredients to a shake. Ice and shake briskly all the while keeping an eye out for the old battle-axes from the Anti-Frisco committee. Garnish with a lemon twist.


The Puritans were an extremist English protestant group believed that the reformation despite its destruction did not go far enough. By the mid-17th century 21,000 Puritans had migrated from English shores to establish themselves in New England where they could witch hunt in relative peace.

Puritanical life was one marked by austerity; a strict code in matters of sexual of morality, and loads of frowning was directed at anyone who looked to be having fun. Despite popular belief, however, the Puritans were not opposed to demon drink – though they did pass laws banning the practice of individuals toasting each other, with the explanation that it led to wasting God’s gift of beer and wine, as well as being carnal.

The Puritan a first glance looks austere enough, but under closer examination it appears as if it’s the carnal product of an Alaska cocktail and a dry Martini. The theory is debunked by the fact that the Puritan predates them both.

The drink first appears a cocktail book published in Boston in 1900 entitled The Cocktail Book: A Sideboard Manual for Gentlemen by Fredrick L. Knowles.


50ml Martin Miller’s Gin
15ml yellow Chartreuse
15ml Dolin dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice; stir down whilst maintaining a disapproving countenance. Garnish with orange zest and drink with a sense of self-loathing.

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