Another drink from Craddock’s book, the Spenser is a strange drink without a lot going on, especially when it is extremely cold.
I have to say that I’m beginning to think that a lot of Craddock’s recipes, and those from the time, taste better when they are not bone chillingly cold. The drinks seem to stand up better when they are chilled, but not freezing cold, unlike a lot of drinks which we now consume today. This might be explained by the differences and availability of ice and air-conditioning; but perhaps, I just prefer my drinks to be a little more warm, in which case, especially in the case of gin, the gin takes a backseat to the other ingredients which have room to move and flow over the palate.
That said, this is the same case as most of Craddock’s other drinks. The Spenser is a drink which he describes as “Very mellifluous: has a fine and rapid action: for morning work.” The drink isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but you have a hard time trying to figure out what the hell he is talking about, especially if you don’t particularly like the taste of dry gin and juniper. I happen to appreciate it, but I find it hard to play with paired with certain other flavors. Like apricot brandy, for one.
I can’t find this cocktail anywhere other than The Savoy. Still, over at Underhill-Lounge, Ellestad has already talked about the drink. And he brings up some similar points: the sweetness and the lack of complexity int he drink. I tried it with Plymouth and it didn’t really work. So I went with a fruitier gin, such as G’Vine: a little better. However, what really made this more palatable was letting it warm up, increasing the orange juice, and cutting back a tad bit on the apricot brandy. Still not great, but slightly better.
1 dash angostura bitters.
1 dash (up to 1 teaspoon) orange juice.
1/2 ounce Apricot Brandy
1 1/2 ounce Dry Gin
Shake ingredients and strain into a cocktail glass Garnish with orange peel and a brandied cherry.
Craddock, Henry. 1999. The Savoy Cocktail Book. Originally published 1930. London: Pavilion Books.
Ellestad, Erik. 2010. “Spencer Cocktail.” Underhill-Lounge.com. Originally published June 3rd, 2010.