There's a million ways a person can write themselves into the history books. You could be a great leader, create great works of art, win a war or start a religion. Or you can have something named for you, like a building, or a rose, or a cocktail. Such is the story of Lucien Gaudin, an Olympic fencing champion from France, who's in the book of medal winners, and remembered because there this cocktail named for him.
Gaudin competed during the 1920s, which makes the cocktail easy to pin on the timeline of history. It comes to the US after Prohibition, but was first published in Cocktails de Paris, a French book of mixed drinks from various establishments in Paris. Since then it's fallen into obscurity, if it was ever popular at all. Even though it's been documented since, it's still a classic that's met with mostly indifference. Perhaps it's because of the name. It's an odd name, even when you assume it's named for a real person.
In reality, the Lucien Gaudin is similar to a Negroni, only it's French so the edges have been sanded down. It's a good drink, but so is a Negroni. The Lucien Gaudin, however, is the more delicate of the two, and using dry vermouth and Cointreau in place of sweet vermouth does make it more approachable, but there are alot of approachable alternatives to the Negroni. That's a tall mountain to climb, and even though the Lucien Gaudin is a superb before dinner drink, it's burdened by a difficult name in a world of bitter aperitif cocktails.
In the end, Lucien Gaudin is perfectly named. It's a classic cocktail, just as fencing is a classic sport, and both have equal prestige in their respective worlds. Fencing is a sport that has been around forever, but isn't going to fill stadiums, just like the Lucien Gaudin is a cocktail that's been around a hundred years, yet, while it's always been known, recorded, and written about, is rare on cocktail menus. Maybe that's as it should be. This is one cocktail you can make entirely your own, and you'll be better off for it. It really is that good, like, gold medal good.
Stir with ice and serve up. Garnish with an orange twist.
Try these cocktails