Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Hop Toad

We are going to sneak one more cocktail into 2021. This comes right out of the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book from 1935, and that makes it a classic. Yet, with such an odd title, you have to wonder if there is a story behind it. Like most drinks, there probably is, but we don’t know it. For us, the story is how it possibly relates to a modern variation that we wrote about before. Almost a decade ago, we featured the Leapfrog cocktail which appears in the PDT cocktail book. We didn’t know it at the time, but the Leapfrog appears to be a Hop Toad gin variant with mint.

Back in 2012, we thought of the Leapfrog cocktail as an apricot Southside, which it sort of is, but we did not know about the Hop Toad. Indeed, there is no mention of the Waldorf-Astoria on the recipe page in Jim Meehan’s book, but such an obvious riff on this classic with a perfect twist on the name cannot be a coincidence, can it? In any case, here is the original with a couple tweaks to the proportions that you should try.

Hop Toad
1.5 oz aged rum
.5 oz apricot liqueur
.5 oz lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake with ice, then double-stain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lime wedge.

The original recipe calls for the juice of one-half of a lime, then goes on to name the rum and apricot at one-third and one-third each. Describing recipes in proportions like this was typical of the era, but it seems that in this case, the total volume would depend on the amount of juice you get from half of a lime. Thankfully, we have abandoned this level of ambiguity in favor of more specific measurements. You should also notice that instead of this being an “equals” drink, it enjoys a modernized approach to the proportions that puts an emphasis on the base spirit.

The old book calls for Jamaican rum which is a fantastic suggestion. If you want to stay close to the historic version you should use something like Smith & Cross or Appleton, but any decent aged rum will do nicely here. We used local Pacific Rum from Bull Run Distilling. It was good when we tried it several years ago, but this new aged expression is even better! The original recipe also lists “apricot brandy” which was the contemporary name for a sweet apricot modifier. Today, we recognize this product in modern context, carefully pointing out that it does not mean distilled apricot wine eau de vie. We are talking about sweet, apricot liqueur—an ingredient that definitely belongs in your cabinet, and something we appreciate whenever it appears in recipes.

Grab some apricot liqueur and try the Hop Toad with your favorite rum. Then, compare it to the equally delicious Leapfrog and keep the bottle of apricot within reach if you have not had the pleasure of the Pendennis Club/Rural Juror, or even the recent Slope we just posted. With a bunch of others worth exploring and even more on the way, it is going to be a Happy New Year!

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