Twentieth Century Cocktail

20th centuryThe Twentieth Century cocktail, a potation of gin, Lillet, and creme de cacao, is firmly ensconced in the modern craft cocktail revival canon and can be found in the The Cafe Royal Bar Book of 1937. 

It is generally accepted that the drink  was named for the newly designed Twentieth Century Limited, a series of just about the coolest Art Deco styled trains ever built. However, those trains didn’t steam out of the roundhouse until a year after the book was published. Perhaps it was not named for the trains at all but, instead, for the turn of the century. Time to hit the books. 

I did, indeed, find a much earlier Twentieth Century cocktail, but one that bore no resemblance to the Cafe Royal version. Not even a little bit.Twentieth century color corrected

Twentieth Century

3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice

3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

1 tsp Simple Syrup

2 oz Bourbon

Dash of Rum (up to 1/4 oz)

Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer

Shake everything but the ginger ale/beer with ice and strain into a highball glass with a lump of ice. Add ginger ale or ginger beer.

The earliest version I found of this bourbon-based beverage  was in Jacques Straub’s 1913 edition of Drinks. It also shows up unaltered in his 1914 and 1920 editions. It is quite obvious we are looking at two different drinks, not a later variation of an “original.” For your edification, I give you the 1937 Cafe Royal cocktail of the same name.

Twentieth Century Cocktail (invented by C.A. Tuck) Cafe Royal version:

1 1/2 oz Dry Gin

3/4 oz Lillet Blanc

3/4 oz Créme de Cacao

3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

You might find that you have to adjust the créme de cacao and/or the lemon juice to your taste.

Two drinks; same name. Celebrate the turn of the century or take a ride on a marvel of an Art Deco machine. Either way, bottoms up!

z twentieth century