This week’s cocktail takes us back to the classics. The Margaret Rose is a well-balanced cocktail made of gin, Calvados (or Applejack, in a pinch), Cointreau, lemon juice and grenadine. The Margaret Rose is smooth, with clear apple flavor and a very tasty sweet / tart combination from the lemon and the Cointreau. The gin adds some depth and complexity. The grenadine adds more sweetness and the rosy color. This drink is easy to make, works well in any season and is a good introduction to a class of cocktails known as “Daisies”. More on that in a bit.
This recipe first appears in print in “The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book“, a 1937 book that came out a year or so after the more famous Savoy Cocktail Book. In a nutshell, the Savoy book was written by an American Harry Craddock, working in the UK. The UK Bartenders Guild thought that the Savoy book was perhaps a bit too “American” and came out with their own cocktail guide, The Cafe Royal. Both are good cocktail books and each has some unique recipes. For whatever reason, the Savoy is a more popular modern reference. Maybe it’s the illustrations.
We found this recipe and notes on the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book from Cocktail
Virgin Slut, one of the better cocktail blogs. We tried the Margaret Rose and liked it (Carolyn gave it a nod, and she is normally not a lover of brandy) and decided to do some more research. The Margaret Rose is from a class of cocktails known as “daisies”. Daisies are one of the oldest types of cocktails and were common in the 19th century. Definitions vary, but a daisy usually combines brandy, citrus juice (normally lemon) and a sweet liqueur like Cointreau or Chartreuse. Other spirits like whisky, gin or rum may be part of the recipe. A good combination, and a clear precursor to “Sours” like the Sidecar and, much later, the Cosmopolitan.
As for the ingredients, the only somewhat “rarefied” ingredient is the Calvados. Calvados is simply apple brandy from the Lower Normandy region of France. Most Calvados is dry, but features clear apple notes and a touch of heat from the alcohol (depending on the quality of the Calvados). American apple brandy, known as Applejack, tends to run a touch sweeter and more tangy than Calvados. Applejack will work well in this recipe, but the drink will be a bit different. Regardless, there are literally hundreds of cocktails (mostly 19th and early 20th century) that feature apple brandy, so Calvados or Applejack are a worthwhile addition to your bar.
In the end, the Margaret Rose is a good drink to try. It is a good excuse to get some apple brandy, try a “daisy’ cocktail and even get a copy of a cool (if somewhat obscure) cocktail book. Nothing like a bit of history. Or you can ignore the history and just make the drink and enjoy it. That also works pretty well.
The Margaret Rose:
- 1 oz. dry gin
- 1 oz. Calvados (or Applejack)
- 1/2 oz. Cointreau
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 2 dashes grenadine
- Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, coupé or flute. No garnish. Serve.
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