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Drink of the Week: Millionaire No. 1

Back in March I posted a recipe for the Sloe Gin Fizz. If you haven't had the pleasure of tasting this drink, or more importantly, tasting real sloe gin, I highly recommend making a little room in your cabinet for this wonderful spirit. Do everything you can to find Plymouth Sloe Gin since other brands may not be the same product. Some people say that the best sloe gin is homemade, and that's probably true. Just be aware that many of the bottom shelf brands have nothing in common with blackthorn berries, let alone actual gin. Plymouth, on the other hand, is made using the real fruit and their own gin, and it is absolutely delicious.

Besides the Fizz, there are several sloe gin cocktails worth trying, and one of them is the Millionaire #1. This drink appears in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. It's also another great cocktail that uses apricot brandy (actually, it's a liqueur). It may seem like a recurring theme here since we just featured apricot in the Boston Bog and the Rural Juror, but I figured I should make the most of the bottle.

Millionaire Cocktail (No. 1)
.75 oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
.75 oz apricot brandy
.75 oz Jamaican rum
.75+ oz lime juice
1 dash grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Craddock calls for the juice of "one lime" which is always a little frustrating, but you get used to that with the Savoy because he also specifies the other ingredients as proportions (1/3 this, 1/3 that, etc.) instead of using exact measurements. Since it's basically equal parts rum, apricot and sloe gin, a classically-sized result makes 3/4-ounces of each just about perfect. Now, about that lime. The consensus is that a typical medium lime contains about 2 tablespoons or 1 ounce of juice. If your limes are cold, they will yield less. If they are small or large, you just never know. My lime came out just under one ounce or a heavy 3/4. This may not be a drink that will suffer from a quarter ounce either way, but for many cocktails, getting the right balance is vital. If you decide to use the whole lime, you should measure it, then taste the result and see what works best for you.

Regarding flavor, just a tad more than three-quarters of an ounce of lime juice gives this drink a tartness that I really enjoy. Any more and it might be a little too acidic for my taste. I thought the balance was perfect, leading to an evolution of flavor with every sip. At first I thought the drink was going to be too sweet even though I kept my homemade grenadine down to just the dash that is required. But as the other flavors take control you experience the apricot, sloe berries, a hint of grenadine and that nutty character from the pits of the sloes. Underlying it all, is the Jamaican rum. I used Smith & Cross, but Appleton is a popular alternative. The finish is like a sweet-tart, begging another sip. I was actually glad that my lime fell short of a full ounce, as I would have wanted to balance it with more grenadine. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe it's just a resilient combination. With these measurements, I can taste everything in this cocktail.

A million dollars may not go as far now as it did back in Harry Craddock's day, but you don't have to be rich to recognize a tasty cocktail. In fact, I would feel perfectly satisfied spending my last dime on one of these. The glass featured here is from an antique set I found recently. They have a beautiful ground floral decoration and star-like figures that repeat three times on the bowl with rings around its perimeter. It's a subtle but elegant effect that is modest in subdued light, but is very clear in the Summit Sips store.

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