If you’re hoping for a cool story behind this week’s cocktail, my apologies. As far as I can tell, it’s not even clear who Lord Suffolk might have been. My first Google search brought up information on a Duke of Suffolk and an Earl of Suffolk, but not a Lord Suffolk. A more precise search turned up a Lord of Suffolk featured in “King Henry VI, Pt. 2” a Shakespeare play that, if I ever read it in one of my college Shakespeare classes, I have entirely forgot. A more likely candidate was the Lord Suffolk who apparently served in the English parliament in 1908, but I have no clue whether or not he ever touched a cocktail or anything else at all about him. If someone with more time and patience than me wants to read a super obscure tome or maybe some kind of official record, I found on Google Books, I’d gladly accept a report on the topic
So, all we know about today’s drink that it is yet another obscurity from “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” This recipe is has been tampered with for your protection. I’ll explain on the flip side.
The Lord Suffolk Cocktail
2 ounces dry gin
1 teaspoon Cointreau
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
1 teaspoon sweet vermouth
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Shake or stir vigorously as you prefer — for this one, I slightly prefer shaking, maybe — and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sip and toast the mysterious Lord S. Maybe he did something good once.
Whenever I try out one of the many lesser known mixed drinks to be found in the book written by famed American-trained English bartender Harry Craddock, I turn to Erik Ellestad’s old Savoy Stomp blog, which was sort of a boozy “Julie and Julia” without the drama. Mr. Ellestad often altered the recipes when he thought they’d be too sweet, but he left this one alone. He declared it very sweet but nevertheless tasty.
Trying out the original recipe which called for 1 1/4 ounces gin and 1/4 ounce each of all the other ingredients, I was prepped for a sweet treat. Instead I got…blech. As regular readers may know, I don’t mind a sweet drink if it’s not too insipid, but to my palate the original Lord Suffolk Cocktail was just plain nasty. The bitter and acidic notes in the sweet ingredients dominated more than the pleasant ones. It didn’t taste like cough syrup because no sane cough syrup company would put out something that tasted this awful. I quickly dumped it in the sink.
Regrouping, I decided significantly increasing the gin and decreasing the sweet ingredients might help. It did, and so we have today’s drink, a boozy and more tastefully sweet concoction that’s more in the family of the many lesser known sweet martini drinks.
Now, let’s get down to the brands. My gins were Tanqueray, Gordon’s, Hendrick’s and Plymouth. I used both Luxardo and Maraska brand maraschinos. My sweet vermouths were Carpano Antica and Noilly Pratt.I didn’t mess with the Cointreau.
The Carpano brings more bitter notes, which worked out fine, but I lean towards the simpler, but still elegant, sweetness of the NP. On the other hand, I definitely preferred to more bitter/complex Luxardo to Maraska in this one.
There was one complete failure of an ingredient, however. As I’ve mentioned many times here, Plymouth Gin is both a style of gin and a brand. While the flavor isn’t remotely sweet in the way that an Old Tom gin or genever is, it’s not really a true dry gin. That nearly undetectable bit of sweetness in what’s usually a really great gin, laid waste to the drink. Another blech. Just more evidence that even the best booze can be terrible if it’s in the wrong drink.