Reminiscent of oranges, this drink is a mixture of juniper and orange flavors on the tongue, with slight other floral notes pulling through thanks to the Lillet Blanc and the inclusion of bitters.
Another obscure and not common gin drink, at least in the United States and featuring the inclusion of Lillet Blanc, the Abbey is essentially an a la minute orange gin with less sweetness. Orange gin, as a liqueur, has the addition of sugar in it, but is essentially orange infused gin; in the case of the Abbey, there is no inclusion of the pith and oils, but the flavor is pretty similar, especially with the inclusion of a bitters such as Regan’s to provide some spice notes, and the Lillet Blanc.
The drink is a British favorite, still made today, most often the drink leaves out the Lillet Blanc. The Abbey is the first drink listed in Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, and features dry gin, Kina Lillet, orange juice, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Now a days, it is more common to use orange bitters instead of Angostura, so I followed this general guideline, but chose a bitter that has more spice notes, id est the Regan’s, to help bridge the gap between what Craddock calls for and the modern day.
Also, the use of Lillet Blanc is a choice made by me because there is no more direct equivalent of old-school Kina Lillet, so the closest thing imaginable on the market is the white version of Lillet. Overall this drink screams to act as an aperitif, seeing as how the inclusion of the bitters, the inclusion of the Lillet, and the inclusion of gin all in one glass, without any added sweetener, helps to encourage and stimulate appetite. The inclusion of Lillet really makes this drink special, and removing it reduces the overall quality of the drink, making it more like a rather generic juniper oriented citrus drink. In a Corpse Reviver #2, some bartenders I know replace the Lillet with Cocchi Americano, which adds a nice bit of variance upon the drink; in the case of the Abbey, the same substitution can be made, to decent effect.
Craddock says to shake this drink, but there is so little orange juice, that it makes sense to just stir it, which keeps the flavor of the aperitif wine, either Lillet or Cocchi, as a major component that balances well upon the tongue; aperitif wines are rather notorious for being fragile in flavor, so too much water can just upset their taste, and stirring is the safe solution here. Also, I personally enjoy this drink with Old Tom gin more so than with a London Dry. But that is just my preference.
1 1/2 ounce dry gin 3/4 ounce Kina Lillet 3/4 ounce orange juice 1 dash orange or Angostura bitters
Stir over cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass; optionally garnish with a brandied cherry.
Craddock, Henry. 1999. The Savoy Cocktail Book. Originally published 1930. London: Pavilion Books.
Embury, David A. 2009. The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Originally published 1948. New York: Mud Puddle Books, Inc.
Uyeda, Kazuo. 2010. Cocktail Techniques. Originally published in 2000. New York: Mud Puddle Books, Inc.