The cocktail is a distinctly American phenomenon, and while it’s hard to mess up cold booze in a glass on a hot day, there are still measures of greater and lesser in the annals of our gin-swilling history. Jerry Thomas is one of the greats. His How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion has been helping us live our best lives since 1862. As summer winds down, I insist that you travel back into our past by making one of “Professor” Thomas’s greatest drinks: The Champagne Cocktail.
The Champagne Cocktail
½ tsp sugar
1 or 2 dashes of bitters
1 piece of lemon peel
Fill tumbler one-third full of broken ice, and fill balance with wine. Shake well and serve.
Don’t go buy a bottle of Clicquot and don’t go buy a bottle of ‘Dré, either. Don’t obsess over what kind of sugar Thomas was using in the middle of the 19th century (try confectioner’s sugar, it’ll dissolve easy). Don’t worry if you can’t slice lemon peel like a pro. Just toss the ingredients together as best you can. It’s near impossible to mess up. Hit it with double the bitters if you’re adventurous. And then the important part: put your feet up, take a sip of a piece of history, and watch the end of another American summer go by.
Find more great drinks courtesy of the Professor himself, in his own words. Thomas’ entire book is online and in the public domain.
Wade Linebaugh is the assistant editor of ‘Merica Magazine.