Before the Margarita, there was the Tequila Daisy. Before the Sidecar or the Daiquiri, there was the Whiskey Sour. Before the Long Island Iced Tea, well, there was your sobriety. And, before the Martini, there was Turf Club Cocktail. The family tree of cocktails more than slightly resembles the family trees of European monarchies post-1066, awash in bizarre intermarriages between cousins and enemies whose offspring, on occasion, were better left to forgotten convents and monasteries on craggy waysides. The Turf Club Cocktail, however, deserves its due.
The Turf Club and Martini, to be fair, both arrived very shortly and almost simultaneously after the advent of the Manhattan. The bartender’s first instinct is to take a revelatory drink and swap its base spirit with another, then tweak its modifiers accordingly. So it was that the Turf Club took the whiskey from the Manhattan, replaced it with Old Tom Gin (a sweeter style of gin in vogue at the time) and created something very close to the Martinez, also a cousin to the Martini. However, to me, this simple gin-and-sweet-vermouth version of the Turf Club doesn’t satisfy. What makes the Turf Club sing is the eventual addition of absinthe and maraschino liqueur.
Turf Club Cocktail
2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Absinthe
2 dashes Angostura or Orange bitters
Stir all ingredients well in a mixing glass filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
You can see that this is a drier expression of the drink given its use of French (dry) instead of Italian (sweet) vermouth. For me, the ideal gin and Italian vermouth drink is the Martinez, so this version of the Turf Club suits those for whom a modern Martini is too dry and demand a bit more complexity than that dusty, threadbare fop can offer. The Maraschino adds a nutty sweetness and heavier body to the drink that makes up for the dry qualities of the gin and vermouth, and the absinthe hits a very bright note that registers from start to finish. The Turf Club is a simple and elegant drink that is ill suited to food heavier than the lightest appetizers and should be consumed just as the indigo curtain falls and day exits stage right.
Gabriel Szaszko writes at cocktailnerd.com and enjoys long walks on the beach, sangria in the park and the poetry of Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings.
Prosecco is Italy’s answer to France’s champagne and has, of late, become more predominant on store shelves. Not a bad thing at all. Prosecco grapes are grown primarily in the Veneto region of Italy along the foothills of the Alps and the sparkling wine produced from them is characterized by its lightness, citrus overtones and ability to pair with northern Italian fare, especially seafood dishes. The flavor and quality of Prosecco sparkling wine is greatly influenced by the fact that, unlike the Champagne technique, second fermentations occur in pressurized tanks instead of in-the-bottle, and the fermentation process is shorter. This tends to make for a less complex and rich experience than French champagnes provide, but, at the price, the value proposition is tough to argue.
Adriano Adami Prosecco Brut ($12.95): This is a very light and brisk sparkling wine that hits the palate and then leaves it clean and quickly. The primary notes are apple, melon and honey flavors mixed with a high acidity. This isn’t overly dry as some bruts can be and has a very nice palate cleansing effect
Moletto Prosecco ($14): Moletto Prosecco has a similar flavor profile as Adami but is more heavy-bodied and strident. Moletto strikes the palate with more tartness than the Adami and has a longer finish that is more grassy and mineral than the others in this line up.
Cavit Lunetta Prosecco ($12): I’m generally not a fan of Cavit’s products but so long as your expectations aren’t overly high, this Prosecco is serviceable. Not quite as complex as Adami, it has a similar set of tart, citrus and nutty-sweet flavors. However, they are too light and leave all too quickly to make much of an impression.
Mionetto Prosecco Brut ($14): Mionetto is the most distinctive of this round up. It is more reliant on the melon side of the fruit flavor spectrum and has more floral elements than the others. – GS