In a mixing glass, add cloves to Whiskey and let sit for about an hour
When ready, add other ingredients
Shake with large ice and strain into a coupe
* * *
The Duppy is about as obscure as a cocktail can get — at least on the Internet. A Google search produces only three real hits: CocktailDB (such an exhaustive resource that produce a result for any drink for which you’re looking), friend Erik Ellestad’s Underhill-Lounge (which makes perfect sense as Erik’s working his way through every drink in the Savoy Cocktail Book and the Savoy is where I found this one), and bolscocktails.com, makers of our Bols Genever as well as a myriad of other products including curaçao, also lists it in their drink database. As far as rolling up sleeves and getting intimate with the Duppy goes, Ellestad seems to be alone in this endeavor.
Early last month, Darcy O’Neil, purveyor of the seminal Art of Drink, published a post on “How to Name a Cocktail“, which if you’re planning a little original mixology, should be on your short reading list. Had Mr. O’Neil played Simon Cowell to the Duppy’s debut, the drink wouldn’t have made it to Hollywood — at least on name alone. See, a duppy is a Jamaican ghost (making it a drink which would have been perfect for our Halloween Haunt, had we had Orange Bitters back then). Knowing this fact alone, anyone faced with the Duppy on a cocktail menu would immediately, and rightfully, assume it to be a Rum drink. No such luck. According the Savoy, it’s a “Whisky” drink, which really doesn’t help matters, as Ellestad has informed us that the book uses the term liberally and inclusively for all whiskey drinks that don’t merit clearer specification. Boothby’s of 1934 agrees with “whisky”, while CocktailDB suggests Bourbon or Rye. In many instance, I find the latter to mean that the drink first appeared during Prohibition and, at the time, most likely used Canadian Whisky, the Age of the 18th Amendment’s chief substitute for the scarce Bourbon and Rye. Bols recommends “Rye Whisky”, which just confuses things (note the spelling).
Since Ellestad has clearly done his research, tracing the origins of the Savoy’s recipe back to 1925’s “Drinks Long & Short” by Nina Toye and A.H. Adair, I’m going to use his choice of Scotch as our guide. Of course, at 12 Bottle Bar, where we see Scotch, we reach for Redbreast. To be fair, Ellestad also mixes the drink per Patrick Gavin Duffy’s 1934 recipe, which calls for “whiskey” and “leaves of clover”. Here, Ellestad chooses Rye, but as he found this recipe less exciting than the Savoy’s, we’ll keep to the original path (although Redbreast and clover does intrigue — perhaps a “Thevshi”). One place where I suggest adjustments is the amount of cloves. When scaling the Savoy recipe, Ellestad found the clove quality a bit lacking. As Boothby’s calls for a great deal more cloves, I propose you go with as many as you can handle, up to about a half dozen and minding your own clove tolerance.
The drink itself is an Autumnal dandy. The smooth spice of the whiskey married with the sweet, tangy orange — all followed by a lovely clove finish. Modern thinking in drinks such as this is that they must be stirred. Here, be wise and follow the hearty shake recommended by our fore-tenders. With no real “weak” among the ingredients, this can stand a good tussle, which ultimately proves to more fully integrate the cloves — just as we saw earlier in our own VOC. As the leaves turn golden and the air grows crisp, you could do much worse than to scare up a Duppy.
Esoterica: Always on the prowl for proper justification behind the history and naming of drinks, I’d like to offer up the story of the Red Hat Ghost as possible revisionist provenance for the Duppy. Defaulting to Scotland for our bit of ghost hunting, we find the late 18th/early 19th Century apparition of a man in a big red hat, seen haunting a particular street in Edinburgh. Claims of the presence were so frequent and alarming that one James Campbell, the chief “witness” of the specter, was taken to court by the landlord of several properties on the street and accused of spreading tales of the Red Hat Ghost to get the rent reduced. Campbell was fined £5 and told not to mention the ghost again. On his way from the court, he inquired as to whether he was still permitted to converse with the ghost, as he was prone to do.
The street which the Red Hat Ghost haunted was Jamaica St. ANd there you go — Jamaica, Ghost, Scotch — case solved. And they would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for us pesky kids.