April 29, 2009

Monkey Gland v. 2.0?

In the 1920s, a "fad drink" was making the rounds in Paris. It was called the Monkey Gland. To make a long story short, this was the sort of the "Slippery Nipple" of the time, a titillating name and nothing too special to back it up. Long story short, the name came about from a certain "doctor" (and I use the term loosely) who was transplanting monkey testicles into humans, with the notion that it may pump up the libido of the recipient. Sounds like a good recipe for Ebola, but that's just me. For more info on the drink, see Darcy O'Neil's post on his blog, "The Art of Drink."

So, I got to thinking on this one...it never really caught on here in the US, I think in part due to the already increased stigma on absinthe, an ingredient which was barely used in the original, but was thought to have some serious mind-warping juju in its depths. If it did come to the states, though, it probably would have come in through New Orleans, because with transplanted monkey parts, it sounds like voodoo already. So here's a small, more cordial, slightly more exotic take on the Monkey Gland; call it:
Monkey Gland v. 2.0

1 oz gin
1 oz orange juice
dash of Pernod (or absinthe if you have it)
dash of raspberry syrup
dash of Peychaud's bitters
3-5 drops of black pepper and orange extract*

stir all ingredients together with ice and strain into a cordial cup.

*to make this, just mix 1/2 tsp mixed peppercorns (some crushed, some whole) and 1/4 tsp of dried orange peel for every two ounces of overproof rum, let steep for a week, and then strain through a coffee filter.
monkey gland v2.0
Well, it turned out OK, but as Darcy says in his post, it's basically gin n' juice with a dollop of anise. The raspberry syrup's there for color more than anything, and the bitters and black pepper/orange extract, while present, are left kind of going "Well...here we are, Bartleby. What now?" (I have no idea who Bartleby is...he just showed up.)

So I got to thinking some more...what could I do to make it a little more interesting? And then it occurred to me...why not use some of the berry shrub base instead of the raspberry syrup? It'll add some more personality, and some more complexity, with the berries and vinegar playing off the rest...so here's:
Monkey Gland v. 2.1

1 oz gin
3/4 oz orange juice
3/8 oz berry shrub base
1/8 oz Pernod or absinthe
dash Peychaud's bitters
5 drops black pepper and orange extract
This one has a lot more appeal...it's not nearly so sweet for one, and it's got a lot more depth. The black pepper extract adds a little bit of heat right at the end, but not enough that you go "Why is there pepper in my drink, Bartleby? Did you get me a strange Bloody Mary? Is this some kind of new Sangrita?" The modified version's not quite got the same electrified hue of the original...it's a bit mellower due to the less refined nature of the shrub base blotting out some of the more fluorescent aspects of the raspberry syrup, but it more than makes up for being not quite as vibrant appearance-wise in the flavor department.
monkey gland v2.1
It's definitely worth a try...if you didn't, I'd say you were bananas.


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