I chose the Merry Widow for tasting several weeks ago, and since then I have whipped it up on at least three occasions—each to general applause. So there you have it: The Merry Widow cocktail is a delight.
The Merry Widow
2 Dashes Absinthe
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
2 Dashes Bénédictine
1/2 French Vermouth
1/2 Dry Gin
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel on top.
The recipe caught my eye largely thanks to its name. Last winter Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet presented The Merry Widow, which I attended as a mother-daughter outing. It was delightful beyond words. A rich fin de siècle ballet set in Paris, the costumes were glittering, the set was sublime—and of course the music and dancing superbly imbued with a fine balance of humor and grace.
Was that a flowery enough paragraph for you?
At any rate, I very much enjoyed the ballet, so I simply had to try the referential cocktail.
The Merry Widow tastes like a libation one might cross at any mixology heavy classic cocktail bar. That is to say, it is not as biting as a few of the cocktails I have reviewed here, but it is certainly a beverage that takes itself seriously. The sweetness of the Bénédictine and the licorice of the absinthe make the Merry Widow a slightly punchy concoction, kept from the brink by the crisp cooling agents of dry vermouth and gin.
Would I serve it at a party? Yes. Might I serve it on Christmas Eve? Yes. I might.
Mr. Manhattan Cocktail
Crush one lump of sugar in a little water.
Then crush four leaves of fresh green mint, and add—
1 Dash Lemon Juice
4 Dashes Orange Juice
1 Glass Gin
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.