First things first: I have no idea why this drink is called the Alaska Cocktail. The Savoy Cocktail Book, where this drink appeared in 1930, is less than helpful in illuminating the drink's origins: "So far as can be ascertained this delectable potion is NOT the staple diet of the Esquimaux. It was probably first thought of in South Carolina hence its name," according to the book.
Alaska, at least, sounds cold and refreshing? This recipe is deceptively simple--just gin, yellow Chartreuse (a lower alcohol, slightly sweeter relative of the more common green variety) and, optionally, a dash of orange bitters. Yet the drink is energetically complex due to a vibrant mix of botanicals. Some bartenders use a floral gin like Hendrick's but I think an old-school classic London dry gin like Beefeater or Tanqueray works nicely.
However you mix the Alaska, proceed with caution. While it has the sweetness and mellowness of a liqueur, yellow Chartreuse is still 80-proof, so the drink packs a mighty wallop. Sip carefully, and think of glaciers and ice fields.
- Yield:makes 1 cocktail
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce yellow Chartreuse
- 1 dash orange bitters (optional)
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well for 20 seconds and strain into chilled cocktail glass.