Memories of The Drake

(Ed. Note: I’ve reposted this entry because it is so dear to my heart.  I’ve recently returned from a visit to Chicago and was able to spend time at the Drake.)

My mother had a fascination for collecting cocktail recipes as you might have guessed.  The photo of her book that I am using for this blog is here and my first replication will be The Drake Martini.  If you’ve ever seen the movie, My Best Friend’s Wedding, then you’ve seen The Drake Hotel (see photo).  Not only is it a monolithic structure looming on the corner of Michigan Avenue and East Walton Place, it is one of the most iconic hotels in the city. (Maybe the old Conrad Hilton would vie for first place).  Built in 1920, The Drake has stood the test of several owners, management and demanding celebrities.

It was in the Coq d’Or Martini Bar and Restaurant that The Drake Martini was invented. 

Gin has never been on my must-try drink list.  My parents drank Beefeater gin Martinis with an olive; they’d never allow me a taste of course, but I would lean over their just-poured glass and catch a whiff of gin and vermouth and an olive.

Tonight I tried my first gin Martini.  Not sure if I like it; I only bought enough gin today to sample the drink and it probably isn’t the “A” list gin.  Is there a gin equivalent to vodka’s Grey Goose? I’ll admit, gin has kind of a rousing taste, oddly, almost a bit minty when mixed with the vermouth.  This is a drink that could make someone feel oh-not-too-good the next morning, should several have been imbibed.

Here’s the recipe for The Drake Martini. This Martini formula has remained unchanged since 1933.

Ingredients for one (very potent!) cocktail
4 oz dry gin
1/4 oz dry vermouth

Pour into a shaker filled with ice. After a gentle stir, carefully pour into Martini glass.

These are the instructions of Ernie Byfield, a famous Chicago hotelier who also once ran the Pump Room.  He is said to have created The Drake Martini. He felt that the stirring of The Drake Martini is considered vitally important.

Ernie recommended only the “very slightest disturbance of the mixture – just enough to bring about a complete and peaceful marriage of the elements.”  Who am I to argue?  Here’s to you, Ernie!

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