“My grandmother (born in New Orleans in 1895) inherited the recipe from her mother-in-law shortly before the beginning of the First World War. As specified by the original recipe, my grandmother concocted this libation by the quart and stored it in an antique lead crystal decanter. Informed that science had linked lead crystal to lead poisoning, my grandmother said: ‘It’s a pretty bottle, so hush.’”
The original recipe calls for bourbon, maraschino liqueur, orange curaçao, simple syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters, Angostura Bitters, and Amer Picon. Amer Picon, a potable French bitters, is no longer imported to the States, so I substituted Amaro Ciociaro—a similarly flavored Italian bitters.
The Mother-In-Law Cocktail begins sweetly, thanks to the maraschino liqueur and orange curaçao. The flavor of the bourbon follows with some high proof heat—we use Old Weller 107. The Angostura and Peychaud’s Bitters, as well as the Amaro Ciociaro, lend the cocktail’s finish a slight, pleasant bitterness. It has a wonderful citrusy nose from the expressed lemon peel.
Though I’m not preparing it by the quart as Mr. Baldwin’s grandmother’s recipe instructs, I do remain true to the original proportions. The Mother-In-Law Cocktail is a great drink for those who like their libations brown, bitter, and stirred.
Photo by Robert Brenner.