Monday, May 28, 2012

Four Score

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill. A great man whose drinking prowess is almost as legendary as his deeds as British prime minister. On November 30 1954 while still in power, Churchill celebrated his 80th birthday. As well as a televised ceremony being held in his honour, he was the recipient of many a gift, perhaps none more fitting that this commemorative cocktail from Joe Gilmore, the then-head bartender at The Savoy Hotel's American Bar. Appropriately, I spied the Four Score in a recent pass through my copy of The Savoy Cocktail Book. While the original recipe calls for brandy, I've taken the liberty of giving cognac, France’s famous burnt wine, the call-up.

I've been trying new recipes the last few days with - frustratingly - limited success so coming across a winner like this was more gratifying than normal. I hate reaching for clich├ęs, but the Four Score's whole really does trump its parts. Invigorating. Buoyant. Powerful yet tempered. Some of the adjectives I might throw at this concoction.

Despite enjoying the drink's perkiness, part of me wanted something heftier. Obviously the first area to look at is the cognac. Like any drink based on a (brown) spirit, the sky - or credit card - is the limit when it comes to filling a cocktail's tank. It's easy to imagine a VSOP or XO number adding considerable bulk to the Four Score's frame, but that's an experiment and expense for another day.

A make-shift solution: I replaced half the cognac with rum, in this instance, Ord River Rum from Western Australia's Top End. Pleasingly, it worked a treat, adding the desired depth and sweetness to the drink while enhancing its lemon and herb characteristics. Like the cognac, there's scope to be as conservative or crazy as you like with the rum: as long as it's dark, all should be well.

Four Score
(Based on a recipe by Joe Gilmore published in The Savoy Cocktail Book)

30ml Courvoisier VS
20ml Lillet Blanc
10ml Yellow Chartreuse

Stir over ice for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.