Charles Baker tells us that this cocktail is from the Army-Navy Club in Manila, Philippines. This social club was the go-to hang out spot for Americans in Manila back in the early part of last century. It was notorious during that time not only for not allowing any local Filipinos in unless they were servants--hello American imperialism--but also for drunk's row, a line of bunks situated side by side along the entire length of one veranda, specifically for those who could not handle their liquor. Many American officers, fresh off the boat and far away from the constraints of Prohibition, were escorted (carried) up to this room to sleep off their over-indulgence in freedom, read extreme inebriation. Somehow this seems better than the only modern equivalent I can think of: the good ole drunk tank.
When I first gazed at this recipe, I was puzzled and a bit disheartened. Oh Charlie, what am I going to do with you?
2 ponies Bacardi (2 ounces)
1 pony dry vermouth (1 ounce)
1 pony dry gin (1 ounce)
1 pony cognac (1 ounce)
1/2 lemon, juice; or 1 lime, juice (1/2 ounce lemon juice)
"Shake well with lots of cracked ice, pour into a large flat champagne glass, and send for the Marines!"
Notes on ingredients: I used Cruzan white rum in place of the Bacardi. Dolin dry vermouth, Bellringer gin, and Paul Masson brandy in place of cognac.
So I find in my glass numerous spirits, vermouth, and citrus. But, alas, no liqueur, syrup, or other sweetener. Boozy and sour, yes; drinkable . . . my hopes were not high. Could this be a typo? Was something lost in transcription? Please? But as I began my search for other versions, my hopes were dashed with the appearance of the Adios Amigos in Trader Vic's guide (1947) and on cocktaildb.com, both without any mention of a sweetener. The proportions are different and the lemon juice has been dropped in favor of lime. Other than that it is still dry, boozy, and sour. But where Mr. Baker leads we shall follow, if only for one sip. So here is my attempt at having an open mind.
Well hello there, lemon. This drink was fucking sour. The aroma included all things lemon and not much else, big surprise, though I may have talked myself into detecting the rum. That was when I started to rethink my choice of citrus, could lime have been any better? The first sip was as expected dry, sour, and quite boozy in an unimaginative sort of way--the flavors kind of blended together so I only felt the sensation of alcohol, but could not decipher the flavor. It was just too hard to get beyond the sourness. I tried, but after much puckering, I found this concoction unremarkable and quite undrinkable. Oh well. But since I had done my homework on our friend Mr. Baker, I was not surprised that one of his drinks was--well, to be nice--out of touch with modern tastes. So, after scratching my head and poking around in other cocktail resources, I came up with a more modern translation:
Adios Amigos (as adapted)
1 ouce Cruzan
1/2 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
1/2 ounce Bellringer gin
1/2 ounce VSOP brandy (Masson)
1/4 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Shake ingredient in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass.
What a difference a little bit of sugar makes! My first thought was to balance out the citrus. My second thought ran to lime juice. Limes go well with rum; limes go well with gin. Why not? The lemon had already failed miserably. Fortunately for me, after making these two considerably small decisions, I turned to the professionals. What luck that the Adios Amigos was in the Diffordsguide with lime juice balanced by syrup. I had not thought of cutting down the amount of juice, but boy did it work. The citrus was still the most prevalent smell, but the rum and the gin were present as well. On the first sip, the flavor of lime mingled pleasantly with the rum and the herbal notes of the gin. The brandy contributed a nice richness to the overall drink, making it very mellow. The drink still retained its dryness, and on the swallow I tasted the botanicals of the gin and the vanilla notes of the rum. The one fault I found with this drink was that when it warmed up the dry vermouth began peeking out in a not-so-nice way . . . do not tarry with this drink.
Twelve Mile Limit
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