As Moss would say, “Did you see that ludicrous display last night?” I figure we could all use a drink after that. Something tasty, maybe a bit exotic, well, not actually exotic, but something with a faux nostalgic feeling for a bygone era when travel was an adventure and you could still actually do it. When a trip to Europe passed from New York through Newfoundland to the Azores and on to Lisbon, landing in the water in one of those amazing planes of yesteryear, with crystal in the dining room and sleeper berths. So, join me now as we stand and make the Pan American Clipper.
The actual designation was the Boeing 314, but the world knew them as Clippers and they were the flagships of the new Pan American Airways. I remember seeing them in the movies, they were referenced in Casablanca and in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I always wanted to fly on one, but I was born too late. None of them survived beyond 1951, though there is a replica at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum in Ireland. In their time though, they were the epitome of adventure travel, flying literally around the world landing in exotic ports of call. For many they were the visible symbol of a different kind of America, a country that used its industrial prowess to serve as ambassadors of friendship. Legend holds that it was a a Pan Am chef who first created the Irish Coffee to serve to passengers in their Foynes terminal. Of course, we aren’t making that classic today, we are here for something a little more relaxing.
Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of apple brandy, I chose Laird’s Applejack; 1/2 an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/2 an ounce of grenadine, 3 dashes of absinthe, I used Corsair; and two stabs of Angostura bitters. Add ice and shake well to the beat of Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” for a period appropriate experience. Double strain into a chilled silver edged Nick & Nora and garnish with a dehydrated lime floated on top. I bought a dehydrator, so you’re going to see a lot of dehydrated garnishes for a while. If this causes undue hardship for you, please report it to the management and we will strive to make certain accommodations.
Of course, this is lovely, nearly perfect for an autumn afternoon. Applejack often is, but I am surprised how the grenadine plays nicely in this one, I often find it a bit too sweet. Maybe it is that absinthe holding it in check. It is kind of fruity, but still booze forward, I am for it. Yeah, this has all the hallmarks of a post prohibition drink. I swear there must have been a grenadine surplus or something. It seems like most of the drinks of this period find a way to use it, even if only to turn them red. Still, it is kind of like the creme de violette or any lavender element, as long as you don’t let it overpower things, it is wonderful. Like most things, myself included, it is best enjoyed in moderation.
This drink dates back to 1939, the time of the actual Pan American Clippers and Moonlight Serenade. You could have very easily sampled this drink while waiting to board your flight, listening to the wireless playing Glenn miller in the background. It actually is older than that, but it does first appear then in Charles H. Baker’s “The Gentleman’s Companion” a sometimes bizarre, but often entertaining travelogue, where he wrote of his adventures and the food and drink along the way, peppered with occasional philosophical departures, all in a sort of stilted prose. “So, you see, there is nothing new under the sun”, the Monkey lamented, as he worked in yet another Ecclesiastes reference into yet another cocktail, didactically. I had to work that word in since I always think of this timeframe when I hear it, which is rarely at best. I first learned it while performing as Dr. Bradman, in the 1941 Noel Coward play “Blithe Spirit”. One of my cues was my wife saying, “Don’t be didactic, dear” or something like that. I had to look it up, because I didn’t even know how I was being. For those keeping score at home, it is an adjective that means, “ intended to teach or instruct; in the manner of a teacher, particularly in a patronizing way.” So, yes, I am being didactic as I teach you the meaning of the word didactic. So am I being meta or dodecadidactic? I can never tell. Anyway, the real lesson is the drink is pretty good and I always sort of felt drawn to that time just before the war. Always felt like that was where I really belonged. In retrospect, I hope that I never get to experience what those folks were going through as they watched fascism rise to threaten the whole world. We’ll see how things go. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.