Time for a Drink: Morning Glory Cocktail

[Photograph: Paul Clarke]

As I mentioned in my hangover helper post on Wednesday, the hair of the dog has long been considered an effective means of treating this kind of self-inflicted wound. In Imbibe!, his exhaustively researched history of (mostly) 19th century drinks, author David Wondrich makes the case that the primordial versions of the cocktail were developed with the aim of finding a better hangover remedy in what he calls "the age before aspirin, Advil, or morphine, an age without Alka-Seltzer, Pepto-Bismol, or Starbucks' bottled Frappucino."

Here's an 1887 version of a morning fog cutter, from that year's edition of Jerry Thomas' Bar-Tender's Guide: the Morning Glory Cocktail.

The Morning Glory Cocktail bears the hallmarks of a typical cocktail, circa 1870s and 1880s: its form is quite simple, with a strong base of spirit (in this case, a whammo combination of equal parts cognac and whiskey), a little sugar for softening, a trace of curacao for flavor and a dash or two of bitters for medicinal purposes, along with a lacing of an ingredient that, during the 1880s and 1890s, was sprinkled liberally into drinks both for its ethereal flavor as well as its alleged properties as a nervine: absinthe. Splash some soda water on top to help with rehydration and to help the whole mix go down easy, and you've got a drink that's potent yet soothing.

Of course, a full-bore dosage of whiskey and brandy may not be your idea of a morning eye-opener, and granted, it's strong enough in both flavor and kick to knock your average Bloody Mary to the curb (and I shudder to think what a Morning Glory would be capable of doing to a laid-back Mimosa). I'd suggest you leave your brunches to these more mild-mannered drinks, and break out the Morning Glory after the sun goes down, nomenclature be damned.

A couple of notes on preparation: early versions of this drink called for Boker's Bitters, which have been out of circulation for the better part of a century, but very recently Scottish bartender Adam Elmegirab began reproducing these based on the original 19th century recipe; his version of Boker's Bitters can be purchased in well-stocked specialty stores, and online at cocktailkingdom.com. If you don't have Boker's, go with Angostura.

And, as a morning drink, the Morning Glory was originally softened with a good pour of club soda, perhaps an ounce or two; if you're concerned about diluting the drink too much, feel free to cut this measure back to just a splash (it helps lighten the body of the drink, so it's a good idea not to eliminate it entirely), or, as Wondrich notes: "If you're like me, you'll have an anarchic little voice in your head that suggests substituting champagne for the seltzer. Listen to it at your peril." As I can personally attest, it's a very delicious peril, indeed.

Time for a Drink: Morning Glory Cocktail

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About This Recipe

Yield:1
Active time:2 minutes
Total time:2 minutes
Special equipment:Mixing glass, bar spoon, strainer

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce VSOP cognac
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (or 1 tsp. simple syrup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon curacao or Grand Marnier
  • 2 dashes bitters (Boker's or Angostura; see note)
  • 1 dash absinthe (or substitute Pernod or pastis)
  • 1 ounce chilled club soda, to taste (or, what the hell, champagne)
  • Strip of lemon zest, for garnish

Procedures

  1. 1

    Combine all ingredients except club soda and lemon zest in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or small highball glass. Top with club soda; twist lemon zest over drink and use as garnish.

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