Satan’s Whiskers

1 oz Leopold’s Gin
0.5 oz Dry Vermouth
0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
0.5 oz Orange Liqueur (see below)
1 oz Fresh Orange Juice
Dash of Orange Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
Shake with large ice and strain.
Garnish with an orange peel.

* * *

Not long after we posted this, we decide to drop one of our bottles in favor of Orange Bitters.  For the sake of posterity and sloth, we’re leaving the post as it is, but changing the recipe.  For the rationale on the switch to Orange Bitters, please click the relevant link above.  The drink is tasty either way.

Oh, the power of a single word.  A while ago, when we first began to work out the details of our Halloween haunt, at the top of my drink list was Satan’s Whiskers.  Just on the basis of the name alone, we had to feature it.  There was just one problem: it couldn’t be made within the confines of the 12 Bottle Bar.  Every single recipe I’ve ever seen for the drink calls for Orange Bitters – every single one except for Dale DeGroff’s in “The Essential Cocktail”.  DeGroff uses the word “or”, and it’s all the permission I needed to grab the pitchfork and run.

In his recipe, DeGroff specifies a “dash of Angostura or orange bitters” – what a magical word, that “or”.    Now, I’m a big believer in Orange Bitters.  I’ve even gone so far as to state that, had this officially been a 13-bottle bar, they would have been the 13th bottle.  So, it’s only appropriate that now, while we temporarily are “13 Bottle Bar”, we lead off with a drink that pretty much universally calls for them.  Whatever rules I’ve broken to-date, I’ve never been able to bring myself to cross the Orange Bitters line – there’s just nothing else like them.  Luckily, DeGroff stepped into forbidden territory before me, allowing me to sneak in behind him.  Of course, I’m relatively certain that DeGroff’s recipe permits for Angostura simply because Orange Bitters proved to be so scarce for so long.

Typically, at 12 Bottle Bar, we simply call for Orange Liqueur in our drinks.  Satan’s Whisker’s is one place where your choice of liqueur affects the name of the drink.  A “straight” version calls for Grand Marnier.  A “curled” version is made with curaçao.  In his book Cocktail, Paul Harrington suggests “we sip our Satan’s Whiskers curled if it’s still light outside and straight if it’s not.”  Ted Haigh tells us that while most prefer it straight, he likes his curled.  Which you drink is up to you.

The original recipe, as well as Haigh’s, calls for equal parts of Gin, the Vermouths, and Orange Juice.  DeGroff ups his Gin, Juice, and Liqueur a bit.  Having tried both the original/Haigh recipe and the DeGroff recipe, I personally like the DeGroff version.  The Gin’s more forward, and I prefer the dash of bitters over Haigh’s teaspoon.  The Angostura works nicely, but if you’ve got Orange Bitters lying around, knock yourself out.

Esoterica: The Satan’s Whiskers is a variation on the Bronx and first appeared in the “Savoy Cocktail Book” (1930).  The Bronx was among Esquire magazine’s “Ten Worst Drinks of 1924-1934”.  I guess it’s a good thing that people tinker with recipes.


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