I found this cocktail inside Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book that we carry at Umami Mart. Aptly named the Mother-In-Law cocktail, it is indeed a stiff enough drink to prepare you for a visit with the in-laws. There’s nothing like a boozy, numbing drink to smooth out anxieties and tensions that a family gathering can bring on.
But the story behind this cocktail has no negative connotations about in-laws. Submitted to Haigh (AKA Dr. Cocktail) by Brooks Baldwin, the recipe comes from Grandma Baldwin, who inherited the recipe from her mother-in-law right just prior to World War I. The then-unnamed cocktail recipe – a variation-on-a-variation of the Zazarac – was discovered crammed in Grandma Baldwin’s recipe box.
Personally, I have an awesome mom-in-law. Teresa truly enjoys every moment of her life and never takes anything for granted. She encourages me and is supportive of my business, and she always reminds me to “do something for myself every day.” I feel fortunate to have gained another family from marrying Johnny, especially his independent and thoughtful mom. I don’t take her for granted and visit her often, even without Johnny around.
If only everyone had such a great mother-in-law. If you’re lucky like me, make this cocktail to celebrate your good fortune. If you’re not a fan of your in-laws, this cocktail will still do you good.
My two moms on my wedding day.
Makes three servings
1 teaspoon Peychaud’s bitters
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters (I used Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters)
1 teaspoon Amer Picon (I made my own using this recipe)
1/2 oz orange Curacao (I used Combier)
1/2 oz Maraschino liqueur (I used Luxardo)
1/2 oz simple syrup (I used Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)
9 oz bourbon (I used Nikka Taketsuru)
Shake all the ingredients in an iced cobbler shaker and strain into three cocktail glasses.
Now, of course the rule of thumb for a cocktail without juice is that you are supposed to stir it in a mixing glass. But I followed directions here right out of the book and found that shaking this added cold, icy dilution necessary for all the bitters and booze. Mom-in-law was right!
I used Taketsuru because I wanted to put a Japanese spin on this cocktail. I probably should have used Nikka’s Coffey Malt whisky, as it has more depth like a bourbon, but I have a couple Taketsurus so I used it. But 9 ounces of whisky is no joke! Bulleit Bourbon would do just fine here, or my favorite, Elijah Craig.
The drink itself is quite bitter, and is balanced well with all of the whisky. Johnny thought that it tastes like black licorice, and I liked all of the citrus zest notes from the Combier and DIY Amer Picon. I would recommend this to kick off the next Thanksgiving dinner with the entire family.
Photos by Vanessa Castaneda. Vanessa is the official photographer and taste-tester for HAPPY HOUR column. Born in Guatemala, lived in LA, and after working as a professional photographer in NYC for 10 years, Vanessa now lives in the Bay Area.