Orange juice is a difficult ingredient. It has a soft, gentle flavor, unlike lemon or lime, and can easily dull a drink. Witness the lack of well known orange cocktails, and, apart from highballs like a Screwdriver, or, one of our all time favorites, the Harvey Wallbanger, or a few others, all of which use enormous amounts of juice, orange isn’t that popular. Yes, behind the bar, orange is the Shemp of citrus, but when it works, it works wonderfully, especially when helped along by a bit of absinthe.
The Monkey Gland is the cocktail in which orange juice shines, but it takes the right ingredients and some careful work to make it interesting. The gin is the most important ingredient, and we need a dry, strongly flavored spirit to bring life to the juice. Our choice is Union Gin from Dogwood Distilling. This is London Dry gin, it’s not shy, and we use it, not only because it’s assertive enough for a Monkey Gland, but also because it comes from the same people who make Haint Absinthe, the other critical ingredient.
Now let’s talk about grenadine, a syrup made from pomegranate that you can make at home, or buy bottled from Portland’s BG Reynolds, a company that makes a range of syrups. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s real grenadine, and, no, Rose’s is not grenadine. It’s high fructose corn syrup and food coloring. Avoid it. Regardless, grenadine is what makes it red, and if you have real grenadine, your Monkey Gland will be more reddish-orange.
Our recipe comes from the Waldorf Astoria cocktail book. We tried many, and many of them didn’t impress us. Orange juice is a difficult ingredient, and the recipe matters, so when we tried the Waldorf Astoria recipe, we knew we had a winner. Yes, the recipe calls for a bit of lemon juice and that makes all the difference, especially since we know it’s hedging a bet, but we like that because it’s all about what’s in the glass.
Oh, and about the name? It’s a reference to an ill-advised surgical procedure, popular in some circles during the 1920s, involving the male libido and the organs of a monkey. Yep. This is a prohibition cocktail.
2 oz (60ml) Union Gin
1 oz (30ml) orange juice
1/4 oz (7.5ml) BG Reynolds Lush Grenadine
1/4 oz (7.5ml) lemon juice
1/4 oz (7.5ml) Haint Absinthe
1 dash Scrappy’s Orange Bitters
Shake and serve up. Garnish with an orange twist.
Try these cocktails