We learned of this cocktail today in the “Spirited Virginia” e-mail from ABC. Apparently, it was “created by a London hotel for Leap Year celebrations in 1928 — a smooth, drinkable gin martini variation that adds a fruity kick of sweet vermouth, orange liqueur and lemon juice.” The London hotel was the Savoy; the occasion, a party held to celebrate Leap Year Day. (In case you’re wondering, February 29 was a Wednesday in 1928.) The cocktail’s inventor: bartender Harry Craddock.
The ingredients, according to ABC, are as follows — with our selections and variations in parentheses:
- 2 oz gin (we used 1 oz Hendrick’s and 1 oz New Amsterdam)
- ½ oz orange liqueur (Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao)
- ½ oz sweet vermouth (we skipped it)
- ¼ oz lemon juice (this is important!)
- Garnish with a lemon twist (persimmon twist)
We skipped the sweet vermouth because the curaçao is sweet enough; keep in mind it’s also 80 proof. The sour acidity of the lemon juice cuts against that sweetness and is an essential ingredient here.
It’s a base Martini with sweet, orangey smoothness, just a bit sour, and no saltiness (no olive). You can strain it through an ice-filled shaker or just chill a Martini glass in the freezer, as we did.
Happy Leap Year Day.