Sunday, August 12, 2012

Classic Cocktail?: the Modernista

As written in Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, I've got to say that the Modernista is a hot mess. It's initially thin, then comes in with a confused mixture of flavors all at once, without the progression and integration of a well made cocktail. To top it all off, it leaves a rather unpleasant taste in your mouth. But I am nothing if not determined, so I tried to transform it into something more palatable, using the same ingredients, just with different proportions.

Modernista (Ted Haigh)
2 oz scotch whisky
0.5 oz Jamaican rum
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz Swedish Punch
1 tsp Absinthe
2 dashes orange bitters

Modified Modernista
1.5 oz scotch whisky
0.5 oz dark Jamaican rum
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.75 oz Swedish Punch
1 tsp honey syrup
6 drops Herbsaint
1 dash orange bitters

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, then garnish with a lemon twist.

The nose is surprisingly well-integrated for having so many different strongly flavored ingredients. The lemon oils, orange bitters, and Herbsaint get together to make one particularly bright smell, which is backed up by the malty notes of scotch along with the funky/smokey elements Jamaican rum and Swedish Punch. The sip begins with reasonable sweetness, between the syrup, liqueur and maltiness of the scotch. This carries through to mid-palate, where the lemon comes in. Further back, the sweetness fades and the lemon dominates, modulated in a not entirely pleasant fashion by the tea notes of the Swedish punch and Herbsaint. The finish is still bitter and somewhat unappealing.

I've got to admit that I have no idea what Dr. Cocktail was thinking with this drink. The pastis is completely out of sync with the other ingredients, marring what could otherwise be a fairly nice cocktail. While I tried valiantly, I don't think this one can be rescued. However, I'd love to hear from anyone who likes the Modernista as written. I'm curious if it's just my palate or if it's generally thought to be a flop. Opinions on the internet differ.

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