Flying Dutchman + orange gin.

Oranje boven.

Flying Dutchman + orange gin.

Now it’s not very often that I come across a cocktail that was invented within walking distance of Proof HQ so when I saw this one in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails a few years back my interest was definitely piqued. The American Hotel which has been hanging out on Amsterdam’s Leidseplein since 1900 is a pretty striking edifice and is popular with touring rock ‘n’ roll musicians. Waaaay back when the hotel was not quite yet a centenarian I had a friend who used to work there and she was allowed to keep whatever they left behind. We had some splendid times drinking Keanu Reeves vodka and smoking his tabs and I’m still in possession of Patti Smith’s guitar picks as well as her magic die (don’t ask, but I still base my most important decisions on a roll of it). There might have been some other abandoned wares but my memory of those days is a little hazy…

American Hotel, Amsterdam 2020.

Anyway it was there in 1950 that a certain W. Slagter who held office at the bar of the American – which is still worth a visit – first wrote of this drink in his Internationale Cocktailgids. It took me a long time to get to making one because it contained a rather strange ingredient: orange gin. For a long time there was not such thing but now there are a few versions available from some of the bigger brands. However, being the tinkerer that I am I decided to make my own orange gin and it really is the easiest thing in the world. Take a bottle of decent but straightforward gin, my choice here being Bombay Dry*, and just add about 15 grams of dried orange peel. Leave it for 24 hours giving the odd shake and then strain it through an unbleached coffee filter. The choice of peel has quite an influence on the flavour so go for a decent one**. Orange gin in hand I proceeded to fix myself a Flying Dutchman (I mean what else was an Amsterdammer going to call his creation, right?) despite the downright weirdness of the recipe. You see the FD has a bunch of bitter and sour ingredients but little to balance them. No, fresh orange juice does not have enough sweetness and, as with pineapple juice, you really need to consider it as “neutral” when balancing a cocktail, counter-intuitive as that may seem. And indeed the FD is a rather bracing drink, which may have been fine in the 1950s but falls a little out-of-gamut to modern tastes. Thankfully this is easily fixed by the addition of a couple of teaspoons of simple syrup. While certainly no mind-blowing complex flavour bomb the Flying Dutchman is a pleasant and crisp cocktail that I particularly enjoy in the dog-days of Summer and as a bonus that orange gin also makes a rather wonderful gin and tonic.

Flying Dutchman.

2oz / 60ml orange gin.

0.75oz / 22ml fresh orange juice (just squeezed, not carton).

0.5oz / 15ml fresh lemon juice.

2 dashes of Angostura bitters.

2 teaspoons of simple syrup (I like to use demerara).


Shake with ice and strain into a chilled champagne coupe.

Garnish with an orange twist because apparently double orange is not quite enough…

To try the original recipe simply skip the syrup. I double dog dare you.

Toast Snoop Dogg.

*While I normally suggest spirits north of 40%ABV for infusing this seems to work just fine with gin as low as 37.5%. If using a stronger gin (42%+) you could reduce the infusion time a little.

**I use a blend of bitter, sweet and Persian peels and it rocks!

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