No, I didn’t name this cocktail after myself. Although, that would be very aligned with my clinical grade narcissism. In reality, this cocktail predates me significantly. The Angel Face first appeared in print in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book published in 1930. It’s an unexpected combination of London dry gin and two different types of brandy.
The London dry gin lends a spirituous foundation and both apricot and apple brandies latch onto the distinctive botanicals used in the gin. Craddock’s original version called for a shaken preparation, which is a bit baffling as tipples exclusively comprised of spirits are almost always stirred.
Both shaking and stirring create dilution but shaking is intended to emulsify ingredients with different liquid densities like fruit juices, dairy, eggs, or syrups. Emulsification adds texture and will more quickly break down your ice, creating more dilution and a cloudy, frothy, or foamy finish. By contrast, stirring ingredients in a mixing glass, keeping your bar spoon tight against the wall of the glass will create dilution, and nothing further. The result is a beautiful crystalline appearance and silky mouthfeel.
If anyone tries to serve you a shaken martini, throw it in their face and tell them, “Tipple says, ‘you’re fired’.” That’s trash and you deserve better, dear reader.
Back to the Angel Face, I’ve cast my disapproving glare upon Craddock (RIP) and opted to stir this drink instead of shake. The key is to stir it good and long so that you can achieve the appropriate dilution and don’t immediately sprout hair on your chest at first sip (my beard is still coming in strong though, thanks for asking).
A successful stir should on the Angel Face should yield a spirit-forward, balanced cocktail that tastes like the offspring of a martini and a sidecar – with less acidity. You have the option of garnishing with an orange twist, as I have artfully composed here, or an apple slice/fan.
Part of the joy of hosting my Virtual Happy Hour series on Instagram is being able to discover forgotten classics fo myself and sharing their fascinating histories and technical approaches with my audience. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve recently expanded that effort to YouTube. I’m adding back-issues of Virtual Happy Hour to YouTube six times a week until the catalogue is complete.
Seeing as YouTube is a search engine (owned by Google) it allows for a much higher degree of discoverability relative to Instagram. And it has the added benefit of monetization, where Instagram is seriously lagging. I would be delighted if you subscribed to my YouTube channel to take in some live-action cocktail tutorials – in case you’re looking for a little more excitement in your life than the written word.
Speaking of which, I know some of you only scroll through my blog posts in search of a little schadenfreude in the form of my bad dating stories. I’m sure it’s been a disappointment to find so little of that content here lately – but rest assured my lady bits are more disappointed than you are. A global pandemic isn’t exactly conducive to knockin’ boots but the countdown to #vaxxedandwaxed is now on and this stallion is chomping at the bit to be first out the gate. Where my freshly divorced men at? Slide into the DMs with your credentials and your COVID-19 glow-up.
What I’m trying to say is, fret not angel face, I’ll be back on that pony in no time with more little horrors and petites morts to share.
This classic cocktail was created by Harry Craddock and first published in 1930 in the Savoy Cocktail Book. It is a spirituous combination of London dry gin, apricot and apple brandies.
Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass until well-chilled and diluted – about 20 seconds.
Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora or coupe glass.
Garnish with orange twist or apple fan.