America's Cocktail Mixmaster-Elect, Dale DeGroff, dropped into the new and swankily (but not too poshly) improved Cole's tonight to promote his book, The Essential Cocktail. His “lushly” photographed recipe anthology of drinks from booze's Golden Age brings a touch of class to our downsized world. Wearing a black sports coat and sweater, and martini-shaped cufflinks, DeGroff says the Knickerbocker Martini (two parts gin to one part vermouth, with orange bitters) is a drink that can put us in touch with the Great Depression just as we approach the Greatest Depression.
“I suppose the stiffer the drink the better,” says DeGroff of the best way to get through economic hard times.
Another drink, from the famed Parisian Harry's Bar of the 1920s, is the Monkey Gland. Originally a gag cocktail that spoofed men's obsessions with aphrodisiacs, the Monkey Gland was taken quite seriously by gents as a genuine stimulant in those pre-Viagra days.
Speaking above the din of his book party, DeGroff, who was once a prince of drink-making at New York's Rainbow Room, says he encourages people to appreciate antique stemware, noting that drinks of yore came in much smaller glasses.
“People are coming back to what I call Nick and Nora glasses,” DeGroff says. “A glass should ideally contain between 12 and 15 sips. The 11-ounce martini glass is out — the old drinks weren't meant to put you in the toilet.”