Tuxedo Cocktail

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I’ve learnt about Tuxedo cocktail from David Wondrich’s Esquire Drink Database. So I thought that it’s made exclusively with sherry. Once enjoying Tuxedo with genever and dry sherry, I started to search for more information about this cocktail. To my shame, it appears that Tuxedo was a well-known and popular cocktail in the first half of 20th century.
The oldest source I could find, Harry Johnson’s «New And Improved Bartendes’ Manual» described Tuxedo as a cocktail with French vermouth, not sherry.

Later sources, «The Savoy Cocktail Book» and «Approved Cocktails, authorized by UK bartenders guild» also mentioned Tuxedo with vermouth. Moreover, «The Savoy Cocktail Book» contains two Tuxedo versions.

At first I would like to say about Wondrich’s Tuxedo with sherry, the strongest and most straight version. I tried it with London dry gin (Bombay Sapphire) and then with genever (Bols Genever).

Tuxedo (David Wondrich)

  • 60 ml gin,
  • 30 ml dry sherry (Elegante Fino Palomino),
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Angostura).

Stir with ice and serve in cocktail glass.

My first impression was that sweeter and milder gin like Plymouth should be used here as David Wonrich suggests. Bombay Sapphire looks like too hard and strong. It move delicate sherry flavour to the background, and sometimes its dryness became excessive.

That’s not bad, and stubborn Dry Martini lovers (as me) would like it. But this is Tuxedo, not Dry Martini.

Made with genever, the cocktail turns to a well-balanced drink with nice malt and wood flavour. Juniper hints make it sharper, and orange bitters come from background bringing fine citrus note to the aftertaste.

I love genever version very much.

Well, what a difference would be here if dry vermouth substitutes for sherry.

Tuxedo (Harry Johnson)

  • 30 ml gin (Beefeater),
  • 30 ml dry vermouth (Noilly Prat Original Dry),
  • 2 dash orange bitters (Angostura),
  • 1 dash absinthe (Pernod),
  • 1 dash maraschino (Toschi Maraschino).

Stir with ice and serve in cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over the cocktail and drop it in the glass.

The nose and the taste have a difference. Here the flavour moves on the vermouth side. The nose is full of floral and fruit notes of vermouth, maraschino and oranges. In the taste vermouth aroma is leading but looks drier because of strong bitter and dry background created by gin.

Maraschino comes on the swallow bringing nice almonds note. Herbal aftertaste with strong anise tone follows maraschino and combines with light orange hints.

It was a nice cocktail with special character and aroma. But substitution vermouth for sherry leaves it short of wood flavour which was one of the main advantages I found in Wondrich’s Tuxedo. Noilly Prat is a really good vermouth but vermouth definitely can’t replace sherry here.

The next version is minimalistic: gin, French vermouth and absinthe only.

Tuxedo (Tuxedo #1, Harry Craddock)

  • 30 ml gin (Beefeater),
  • 30 ml dry vermouth (Noilly Prat Original Dry),
  • 2 dash absinthe (Pernod).

Stir with ice and serve in cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over the cocktail and drop it in the glass.

Tuxedo Cocktail

Enjoying this cocktail I’ve found that dashes of orange bitters and maraschino were very important things. They actually made all the difference in the world. Tuxedo #1 looks like different thing.

It’s just a classic cocktail with full-bodied vermouth taste on the dry herbal base of juniper and angelica. Warm anise and fresh lemon hints work brilliantly in the aftertaste.

Good work. Simple recipe and elegant cocktail as a result.

The last Tuxedo was the version from «Approved Cocktails» compiled by Harry Craddock. It contains a double portion of maraschino.

Tuxedo (Harry Craddock)

  • 30 ml gin (Beefeater),
  • 30 ml dry vermouth (Noilly Prat Original Dry),
  • 2 dash orange bitters (Angostura),
  • 1 dash absinthe (Pernod),
  • 4 dash maraschino (Toschi Maraschino).

Stir with ice and serve in cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over the cocktail and drop it in the glass.

Surprisingly, it seemed to me that this cocktail was drier and stronger than Harry Johnson’s Tuxedo.

Keeping all the nice features of mentioned above version with bitters and maraschino, this one wins over with energy, power and richness in the taste. The little defect was in the aftertaste which was made heavier by viscid bittersweet hint of maraschino.

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