Tag Archives: lemon juice

The William Revisited

On my last post (over a year ago, whoops!) I gave a recipe for ‘The William’, an 1889 recipe for The Only William’s preferred whiskey sour.

At the time I was working on that drink I had to make a guess as to what Schmidt meant by pineapple syrup. I was recently reading Dave Arnold’s “Liquid Intelligence”, and decided to run The William through his formula for creating a balanced cocktail (in terms of ABC, sweetness, and acidity).

Based on the results of that math, it seemed what I needed for the pineapple syrup spot was 10 ml of something twice as sweet and twice as acidic as pineapple juice, or, ideally, 5 ml of something 4 times as sweet and acidic. So I think that when Schmidt referred to pineapple syrup, there’s a good chance he meant pineapple juice that has been reduced to a syrup, instead of pineapple juice with sugar added.

Trying the drink with this new syrup definitely improved it (it wasn’t a bad drink before, but it’s great now). So here’s my corrected recipe:

The William
60 ml whiskey (Bulleit Bourbon)
15 ml lemon juice
15 ml orange juice
5 ml pineapple syrup* (about 5 mL seems right)
Barspoon of superfine sugar
Shake well with ice; strain.

* Pineapple syrup – boil pineapple juice until it reduces to 1/4 it’s original volume.


Repeal Day Cocktail: The William

William Schmidt
“What is the best recipe for a whiskey sour?”

“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.

The William
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.

Port Maria

Port Maria
Port Maria
1½ ozs. light rum
3/4 oz. pineapple juice
½ oz. lemon juice
1 teaspoon Falernum
Grated nutmeg
Shake rum, pineapple juice, lemon juice and Falernum well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top.

For this recipe I used Bacardi silver and homemade Falernum.

This one didn’t do much for me. It was okay, but it didn’t quite come together. The big problem was not enough falernum to really make itself known. I then tried it with different proportions (3:2:1:1), and it was excellent! The nutmeg and falernum combo is wonderful, and both work really well with the pineapple.

I’ve only found a few versions of this online, and none in any of my other books, so I’m not sure exactly when this drink originated. Based on the tiki-esque nature of it, though, I’d guess the 40s or 50s.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.

Canadian Cocktail

Canadian Cocktail

Canadian Cocktail
1 ½ ozs. Canadian whisky
½ oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. curaçao
1 teaspoon sugar
2 dashes bitters
Shake well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass or over rocks in old-fashioned glass.

For this recipe I used Gibson’s 12-year, and Cointreau instead of curaçao. I also used simple syrup in place of sugar, for easier mixing. Since this recipe calls for non-specific bitters, it was the perfect time to pull out my recent batch of homemade Calamansi bitters*.

Not a really complicated drink. The whisky flavour is quite mild in this one, and it leans towards the citrusy. It might be a bit more interesting with a spicier bitters – some of the versions I’ve found online use orange bitters (which the Calamansi bitters are a good substitute for) and some use Angostura.

There’s a cocktail by this name in “Modern American Drinks” by George J. Kappeler (1895) which is just a Whiskey Cocktail (whiskey, gum syrup, and bitters) made with Canadian whisky. “The Savoy Cocktail Book” (1930) and “1700 Cocktails for the Man behind the bar” by R. de Fleury (1934) both have recipes by this name with Jamaican rum as the spirit and with the proportions of curaçao and spirit inverted. Most of the modern books I’ve checked, and most websites, have a similar recipe to Playboy. It almost looks like the modern Canadian Cocktail is a conflation of the two different historical Canadians.

Calamansi Bitters

*Calamansi Bitters
14 calamansi, halved
1 c. 100-proof vodka
½ tsp gentian
1 star anise, crushed
1 cardamom pod, crushed
¼ tsp coriander, crushed
1/3 c. sugar
Squeeze calamansi juice and seeds into vodka. Add in calamansi rinds and herbs. Let stand 2 weeks. Strain out solids, return liquid to jar. Boil solids in 2/3 c. water. Caramelize 1/3 c. sugar, and add it to water with solids. Let cool. Add caramel water with solids back in to jar with alcohol infusion. Let stand 5 more days. Strain and bottle.

These bitters manage to be sort of the inverse of orange bitters – instead of being citrus over a base of bitter herbs, the bitterness is up front with a very bright citrus tang underneath.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.

Salty Dog

Salty Dog

Salty Dog
2 ozs. vodka
½ oz. unsweetened grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Shake vodka, grapefruit juice and lemon juice well with ice. Strain into prechilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle drink with several generous dashes of salt.

For this recipe I used Luksusowa vodka.

I kind of expected this to taste awful. I guess that means I was pleasantly surprised, since it actually tasted like nothing. All the flavours cancel out, and what is left may as well be slightly bitter water. This would be a good drink for people who don’t like the taste of alcohol, I suppose, since that gets covered up quite well.

As near as I can tell this drink originated sometime in the 50s or 60s. It can be made with either gin or vodka, and usually the salt is put on the rim instead of right in the drink. It’s also usually a highball, with twice as much grapefruit juice as vodka instead of one quarter the amount.

Cocktail? More like cockfail!

Wait, no, that’s a terrible tag line.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.

Vermouth Maraschino

Vermouth Maraschino

Vermouth Maraschino
2 ozs. dry vermouth
½ oz. maraschino liqueur
½ oz. lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
1 maraschino cherry
Shake […] well with ice. Strain over large ice cube in prechilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with cherry.

For this recipe I used Noilly Prat vermouth, Luxardo maraschino, and Victoria Spirits Twisted & Bitter orange bitters. I garnished it with a homemade brandied cherry.

This was quite good. A little bit on the sour side, but in a good way. The vermouth dominates, so this isn’t one for the haters, but it’d be a good starter vermouth drink for those just beginning to acquire a taste.

This cocktail doesn’t show up in any of my other books. The only recipe I can find online is at CocktailDB, and it’s identical except it is served in cocktail glass instead. It’s a pretty classic cocktail style, though, like a Casino but with vermouth in place of the gin.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.



1½ ozs. tequila
½ oz. orange juice
½ oz. lemon juice
1 dash orange-flower water
2 teaspoons grenadine
1 slice orange
Shake tequila, orange juice, lemon juice, orange-flower water and grenadine well with ice. Strain over rocks in prechilled old-fashioned glass. Add orange slice.

I was looking through the Tequila section to find something to make for Cinco de Mayo. This one looked interesting, and had a Mexican souding name (the drink is named for a city in Jalisco, Mexico), so fit the bill nicely. Also it didn’t use any limes, which is good since they were in short supply around town.

For this recipe I used Jose Cuervo Especial Gold tequila, an organic Valencia orange, and homemade grenadine (using Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe). I changed up the garnish a bit as well.

At first I liked this. The orange-flower water comes through very nicely up front, but doesn’t take over, blending nicely with the agave and citrus flavours. Unfortunately, the finish isn’t nearly as nice, with a bitter, sour flavour lingering on the tongue. I’m sure there are ways to fix this one, and I think it’s worth saving, but it’ll take a bit of work.

I found a few other versions of this in books and online, all mostly similar. The main variation are ones that use an orange liqueur in place of the orange-flower water; I chose not to bother making any of those, though, since the orange-flower water was the thing I liked most about this one.

This post is part of my project to make, and where possible improve upon, all the cocktails in “Playboy’s Host and Bar Book” from 1971.