By Sam Bygrave
Photography by Steve Brown
I remember as a kid in Adelaide my first introduction to gelato. We went to an Italian place selling scoops of gelati, and I had lemon — because I was told to, I suspect — and I had a scoop of chocolate, because I was a kid and chocolate is amazing.
It might have been the concentrated sugar hit, but whatever it was, this gelato thing was the best thing I had ever tasted, in that way that things taste amazing when you’re a kid. I was as happy as only a kid mainlining sugar can be; to paraphrase Charlie Murphy, sugar is a hell of a drug.
I’m older now and sweet stuff doesn’t do it for me like it once did. But that taste combination came flooding back recently when I put this drink together for the first time.
45ml gin 22.5ml Cocchi Americano
22.5ml TMD chocolate liqueur
22.5ml lemon juice
Shake and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Gin, Lillet, crème de cacao and lemon juice doesn’t read too well on paper — not, at least, until you’ve put a Twentieth Century in your mouth.
This recipe was dug up by Ted Haigh (aka Dr. Cocktail) and has appeared in Gaz Regan’s Joy of Mixology, but other than that hasn’t really appeared since it was first committed to paper by William Tarling in his manual for the UK Bartenders’ Guild, Café Royal Cocktail Book (1937).
Tarling credits the drink to a bartender by the name of C. A. Tuck, and it’s a shame there’s not more known about this guy — this drink is a wonderful, surprising drink.
And it’s nice to have a proper use for crème de cacao — one that doesn’t drown it in cream. Out of the 151 drinks on cocktaildb.com that contain cacao, some 75 of them involve cream. And of the ones that don’t involve cream, well most leave something to be desired.
The Twentieth Century is named for what was once advertised as the world’s most famous train — an art deco-style beauty, the 20th Century Limited. It ran from New York to Chicago in 16 hours, starting from 1902 until its last ride in 1967.