Wallick Hotel, New York City (1913)

As Jerry Thomas captured a moment in time with his 1862 book “How to Mix Drinks (or The Bon Vivant’s Companion),” so did Hugo Ensslin with his “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” published in 1917 – the last cocktail guide available before Prohibition. Think of them as bookends when taken together. Ensslin was head bartender at the Wallick Hotel in New York City (since demolished, now the site of NASDAQ MarketSite). There, he created countless classics including his most famous, the Aviation. His book featured the products that were new and trendy at the time: Bacardi rum, grenadine, Cointreau, applejack… one has to wonder how much more the American craft of the cocktail would have flourished if it weren’t for Prohibition!

This drink’s name is a goof on Chauncey Olcott’s 1913 hit “My Wild Irish Rose” (he’s the same guy who co-wrote “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”) and uses Irish whiskey as its base spirit. Ireland was the first country to make whiskey, possibly as early as the 1100s – that’s a long time to get it right. The famously smooth Irish whiskey was big-time popular in the US around the turn of the 20th century – to keep up with demand, there were hundreds of distilleries and over 400 brands produced in Ireland. Then came Prohibition, two World Wars, the Irish Civil War, and the Great Depression… leaving Ireland with only two operating distilleries. Today, there are still just four.

Try this one with Redbreast 12 – a pot-still Irish whiskey reminiscent of the style popular when Ensslin wrote his book. And, of course, ridiculously-easy, no-excuse-not-to, homemade grenadineSláinte!

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: Irish whiskey (recommended: Redbreast 12)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Grenadine
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Lime wheel, Maraschino cherry

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

2 oz Irish whiskey
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz grenadine

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and maraschino cherry.

New York City (1908)

This formerly-obscure gem will convert your friends who still think of a cocktail as an “Appletini.” It’s fruity, tart, and snappy when done correctly. With only three ingredients in perfect balance, precise measurement is a must – along with the finest ingredients you can locate. The Laird family has been making spirits in New Jersey for 300 years (George Washington is on record having asked for their recipe) and they knock it out of the park with their 100-proof Apple Brandy. But mind their labels – Laird’s has another one called just “Applejack” that’s heavily cut with neutral spirits, skip it. Find the sweetest, juiciest limes you’re able to. And the crowning touch is a batch of homemade grenadine (easier than you think, recipe below).

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: Applejack (recommended: Laird’s 100-proof Apple Brandy)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Grenadine
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Lime wheel

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

2 oz applejack
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz grenadine

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

GRENADINE

Real pomegranate Grenadine is miles above the common artificial kind and can be made easily at home. Mix one cup of freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice (if in season) or 100% unsweetened pomegranate juice (like POM brand) with one cup of white sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When it’s cool, add one and a half teaspoons of orange flower water – easily found at Middle Eastern markets or online. Adding an ounce of 100-proof vodka will keep it from spoiling too fast. Keep refrigerated. Will last about 3 months.

Stirrings and Monin are good commercial alternatives if you’re not up for the five minutes this takes.