“The finest,” said William [Schmidt], “is what is known as ‘The William.’ Take the juice of half a lemon, juice of a quarter orange, a dash of pineapple syrup and a barspoonful of sugar. Don’t put any seltzer in, for that would spoil it, but add an ordinary drink of whiskey. Then fill the glass with shaved ice and shake it well; serve in a fancy glass, and there you have a drink fit for a king.”
-The Evening World. (New York, NY), 15 Nov. 1889.
In honour of Repeal Day I’m forgoing the Playboy Host & Bar Book and attempting to re-create a pre-prohibition cocktail invented by “The Only William”, William Schmidt, of ‘the bar by the bridge’. Schmidt was a prolific inventor of cocktails, designing hundreds of the course of his career. He was quite creative in naming them, as well, so he must have thought highly of this one to have named it ‘The William’. Strangely, despite bestowing this honour on it, this drink didn’t show up in his 1891 book ‘The Flowing Bowl’; it doesn’t appear in any other publications, paper or online, that I can find either.
2 oz whiskey (Bulleit Bourbon)
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz orange juice
Dash of pineapple syrup* (about 10 mL seems right)
Barspoon of superfine sugar (I ground table sugar up with a mortar and pestle)
Shake well with ice; strain.
At first I tried it with Alberta Premium Rye Whisky, and it was just okay. Then I tried it again with Bulleit Bourbon and it was excellent. The hint of sour from the pineapple worked well with the lemon to give this enough bite to counter the sweetness of the orange and sugar, and the caramel and vanilla notes of the bourbon really shine through. This one I will make again.
* Pineapple syrup – equal parts sugar and pineapple juice, heat just enough to dissolve the sugar.