Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics



    .75oz Plymouth gin

    .75oz dry vermouth

    2 dashes orange bitters

    1 dash absinthe


    Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


    • The Ballantine is essentially a 50/50 Martini with a little more bitters and a dash of absinthe. The 1:1 ratio of gin to vermouth in the 50/50 give it less bite to begin with and the addition of absinthe actually makes this one even smoother. Mild anise flavor and the extra orange bitters play well with the dryish and slightly citrus flavored Plymouth gin and dry vermouth.
    • The smaller size of this recipe also makes a great aperitif that is lighter in alcohol, fuller in flavor, and yet somehow smoother on the tongue than a typical Martini. In fact, the first few sips may make you question why you added these extras to a perfectly good Martini, but as time passes and you get a little further into the Ballantine, you realize it really is a great refreshing aperitif that won’t pack the same punch as a traditional Martini.


    This one comes from the 1935 Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, from the section of older supposed pre-prohibition cocktails, which likely makes this one even older than the 1935 publish date of this book. I have been unable to find much else beyond this regards to the Ballantine’s origins.


    While the classic way to make this one is with dry vermouth, Lillet is an excellent substitute, which adds a little more citrus with a hint of apricot flavor. You could also substitute a dash of Green Chartreuse or Elixir de Vegetal instead of absinthe.

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