Sunday, September 18, 2011

The "Drew Barrymore" Cocktail

Photo courtesy of Dave Aaronoff.
Derived from the Du Barry Cocktail, this delightful sipper substitutes one ingredient and adds a little flame - in the process, transforming from doomed courtesan to pyrokinetic prodigy, hence the name "Drew Barrymore" (remember Firestarter?). This one was named (and flamed) by my friends Dave and Kerry, after they determined that the original Du Barry was lacking in some depth.

Speaking of the original Madame du Barry: in short, she was the lasmaîtresse-en-titre of French King Louis XV. She came up off the streets and ended up catering to the erotic needs of the aristocracy of France. Eventually she found herself servicing Louis XV, on the down-low, until she was officially presented to the Court at Versailles in April of 1769 as the king's maîtresse-en-titre. After the king's death in 1774, Mme du Barry was exiled. She eventually met her demise under the guillotine's undiscerning blade on December 8, 1793. Her last words, famously, were "Encore un moment!" (wait!).

So, why was the original called the Du Barry? Is it because it is basically a martini, done up with a bit of finery (Du Barry had grown accustomed to extravagant jewels and attire)? Is it because of the Pernod? While the Pernod absinthe distillery was not developed until 1797, this anise liqueur does represent the French element. Is it the gin? Typically associated with the English, could gin symbolize Du Barry's missed chance of survival? During a visit to Great Britain, the English tried to prevent her from returning to certain doom at the hands of the French Revolutionaries, who were bent on eradicating the aristocrats and royalty. Or perhaps it is the bitters - after all, her fate was a bitter one.

In this version, the original's thin slice of orange is now a flamed orange peel. Also, this calls for Peychaud's bitters - connecting again to the French element (in this case, New Orleans' French Quarter) - instead of Angostura bitters.

The Drew Barrymore Cocktail
  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 2 dashes Pernod
  • Garnish: flamed orange peel
Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel.

The Peychaud's works very well with the anise flavors of the Pernod and the herbal nature of the gin. The flamed peel adds a delicious, complex burnt-sugar hint to the drink.

How to flame a peel: Due to the oils in their skins, lemon and orange peels can be flamed, creating a caramelized flavor in a drink. Be careful playing with fire in the vicinity of strong spirits, though. With a sharp knife, remove a thin section of peel from the exterior of a fresh orange or lemon, about an inch in length and perhaps three quarters of an inch wide, avoiding the pith. You want to end up with an oval of the peel. Holding a lit match or lighter in one hand, and the peel (between forefinger and thumb, exterior facing toward the drink) in the other, gently squeeze the peel so that the oils spritz through the flame and over the surface of the drink. You will see sparks if you do this correctly. In case you need a visual guide, here is a video showing the whole technique at

Bottoms up!

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