A Sweet Dance of Love: The Tango Cocktail
To be accurate, it is the Tango #2 and comes from the The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book printed in 1935. During its heyday, the bar at the “Hyphen”—as the Waldorf-Astoria was sometimes referred to by the sports—had up to twelve barmen behind the counter. Times were good before the 18th Amendment. One of those barmen, Joseph Taylor, kept the bar book through Prohibition, possibly hoping to one day put it to use again. Sadly, Taylor did not live to see the repeal of Prohibition. The bar book was passed to A.S. Crocket who knew Taylor and was writing a history of the hotel.
As cocktails were developed, taste-tested, and considered of sufficient quality to offer the public, they were entered into the official bar book. One such potation found within its pages is the Tango #2. A glance at the recipe and it is difficult to see how it will work, being equal parts of five different ingredients. It sounded like a challenge, so I grabbed the juicer and shaker and had a go.
1/2 oz Rum (Appleton Estate)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Martini and Rossi)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice
Shake gently with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish is called for, but you could add an orange slice or twist and you would not go amiss.
I am not generally one for sweet drinks, but this one works very well with the dry vermouth and spices in the rum helping to prevent the drink from becoming cloying. I experimented with upping the proportion of rum and it completely ruined the drink. Stick with the recipe on this one.
The tango (dance) was all the craze in the 1910s and 20s, and you could down a couple of these tangos (drinks) and still keep your feet.
A note on ingredients: Make sure you use Benedictine and not B&B, which is Benedictine and brandy. The bottles are almost identical, so read the label carefully.