Satan’s Whiskers – straight, curled or twisted ?
This curious drink goes back to at least 1930 when it showed up in the Savoy Cocktail Book written by Harry Craddock. As Harry simply compiled a gargantuan mountain of recipes without telling us where they came from, the trail seems to stop there. Satan’s Whiskers, perhaps fittingly, is a bit strange in that it doesn’t conform to any of the known cocktail templates. “Of Italian vermouth, French vermouth, gin and orange juice, two parts each; of Grand Marnier, one part; orange bitters, a dash. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.” says Harry. Hardly a sour, aromatic, Negroni derivative or, well, anything but if you want to break out of the conventional cocktail strata this is a great place to start. To make things even stranger there are two versions; the above being the “straight” and another with orange Curaçao instead of Grand Marnier being “curled”. Most modern versions of the Satan’s Whiskers stay remarkably true to the original recipe even though the argument over whether straight or curled is the most “diabolical” rages on. My own personal experience of this drink was shaped by a (possible) misprint. Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails calls for a teaspoon of bitters while all other recipes call for a dash. A teaspoon is more like six dashes and it’s damn good that way, typo or not. I’ve never really been comfortable with the small gin component either, so for once I’ve gone off piste and suggest the formula below which boosts the gin at the expense of the vermouth components, albeit slightly. Feel free to tinker but if you go for the curled version I’d advise you to use a quality Curaçao such as Pierre Ferrand. As for the teaspoon of orange bitters; Trust the Force, Luke…
Satan’s Whiskers (twisted).
1oz / 30ml London dry gin.
0.5oz / 15ml Italian (sweet/red) vermouth.
0.5oz / 15ml French (dry) vermouth.
0.5oz / 15ml Grand Marnier (or Curaçao if “curled.”)
0.5oz / 15ml fresh orange juice (squeezed immediately before mixing.)
6 dashes / 1 teaspoon / 5ml orange bitters*.
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupé. Orange twist for garnish.
Toast, hmmmm, better go with Harry Craddock or it might look bad.
*Just a single dash would be the “straight” version.