The Blackthorn

The other day while I was flipping through the Savoy Cocktail Book, a little drink called the Blackthorn caught my eye.

Blackthorn Cocktail

3 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
3 Dashes Absinthe.
½ Irish Whisky.
½ French Vermouth.

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

The combination of dry vermouth and Irish whiskey made me think that this drink might be the perfect little aperitif to make before dinner. Strangely enough, not everyone appreciates whiskey paired with dry vermouth. But in cocktails like the Old Pal and the Brooklyn, the combination works exceptionally well. The dry vermouth adds dryness to sweet bourbons and adds a light, crisp taste to spicy ryes.

The recipe calls for equal parts of Irish whiskey and dry vermouth. Because the Irish whiskey I was planning to use, Jameson, has a lighter taste than that of either bourbon or rye, I decided to decrease the amount of vermouth. As I didn’t want to entirely eclipse the vermouth, I decided to use the more floral bold taste of Vya extra dry vermouth. Here is my updated recipe:

Updated Blackthorn Cocktail

1½ ounces Jameson
½ oz Vya extra dry vermouth
3 dashes absinthe
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir well and strain into cocktail glass

It was indeed a very nice drink, though in spite of my efforts, the Vya still overpowered the Jameson. When I try this drink again, I will substitute the Noilly Pratt for the Vya to see how that might influence the flavors. Perhaps even using Redbreast instead of Jameson might help balance the drink because the whiskey would be bolder. Though there are only three dashes of absinthe, its flavor permeates the drink in a very pleasing way. The proportion seems just right. And the Angostura bitters add a bit of cloves at the end that makes the drink very warm.

N.B. Sometimes this drink is referred to as the Irish Blackthorn in part to separate it from another Blackthorn cocktail whose base is usually sloe gin, though there are many different variations.

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