“The Dowager Queen of Racing” The Saratoga Cocktail
By the time Mr. Red Smith made his observation about the Saratoga Springs racecourse in 1954, the Saratoga Cocktail had probably fallen out of favor somewhat. By the 1950s, drinks, especially those made at home, were getting simpler. Not that the Saratoga is a difficult drink, but does require two liquors in addition to the vermouth and bitters. Like the Side Car and Manhattan cocktails, the Saratoga is one that all bartenders should know how to make. It is an equal parts cocktail; three equal measures of liquor and a couple of dashes of bitters. What could be easier to remember? The problem with equal parts cocktails, while convenient, is that many do not turn out very well. They are often far too unbalanced one way or the other: too boozy, too sweet, too sour. For those that do work, like the Saratoga, the ingredients are everything (how fresh is that bottle of vermouth in your frig?). This is a great drink to experiment with different whiskeys, brandies, and vermouths. This particular combination is quite forgiving. For this pour, I used what I had on hand.
1 oz Rye Whiskey (Bulleit Rye)
1 oz Brandy (Courvoisier VS)
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini and Rossi Rosso)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Stir all the ingredients with ice until very cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float a very thin sliced lemon wheel on top.
Brandy and rye go together beautifully. Some people seem to like over-proof rye for this one. I have not tried it, but I’m afraid it will overpower the brandy making the drink even more like a Manhattan than it is already. Don’t leave out the lemon. It gives a subtle citrus note that is a nice counterpoint to the vermouth and lemon always pairs well with rye.
See you at the races!