Grand Dukes Nectar
by Darcy O'Neil on August 2011
Here is another old cocktail (fancy drink), circa 1873, that is named after Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia. The drink comes from an article published in the New Orleans Daily Picayune (1873 and was created by Mr. E.F. Barry, a bartender at the Everett House hotel in uptown New York. You may remember Mr. Barry as the one of the compounders of the Moral Suassion. He created the drink for the Grand Duke, when he toured the United States and Canada in 1871.
The Grand Duke of Russia was the sixth child of Czar Alexander II and was groomed for a career in the navy. He quickly ascended through the ranks, and by the age of 20, was lieutenant of the Russian Imperial Navy. He was sent to the US, in 1871, as a goodwill ambassador and spent a couple of years touring around the US and Canada checking out the scenery and the girls.
His visit of the US is a who’s who of the historical figures of the time. He was received by President Grant and met dozens of important mayors and leaders. He went hunting with General George Custer, and Buffalo Bill and flirted with many a girl along the way.
In an interesting Canadian tie in, with the Grand Duke, the current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and potential future leader of the country, Michael Ignatieff, had close family ties to Czar Alexander II.
From the January 2nd, 2009 edition of the National Post: “In April 1878, Czar Alexander II ennobled the Ignatieffs, promoting Michael’s great-great-grandfather Paul to Count of the Russian Empire and declaring all his male descendants would take the title of Count.”
As a member of the imperial regiment called the Preobrajensky Guards, Michael Ignatieff’s great-great-grandfather helped drive Napoleon out of Russia and decades later, was assigned protector of the throne when the Czar was on the front during the 1887-88 Russian-Turkish war.
Now, it is said that the Grand Duke was fond of quaffing this nectar. So let see if it truly is a royal drink.
Grand Dukes Nectar
2 oz (60 cl) Brandy
1 oz (30 cl) Jamaican Rum
2 tsp (1 cl) Chartreuse
1 Tbls (1½ cl) Cold Black Tea
1 oz (3 cl) Champagne
1 tsp (½ cl) Sugar
1 tsp (½ cl) Lemon Juice
Instructions: Combine all ingredients, except the champagne, into a shaker with fine ice. In a tumbler add the champagne. Shake the other ingredients and pour into tumbler with Champagne, stir. Garnish with orange twist.
For this drink I used Meukow 90 for the brandy and Wray & Nephew Overproof for the rum. Even with these higher proof spirits, I suspect the drink still had more kick in the 1870’s than it does today.
As you may have guessed, this is a fairly potent drink. The smokiness of the Wray & Nephew is apparent, and the Meukow 90 also has a smokey character, so these dominate. Depending on what you use for these two ingredients, the flavour of the drink could change significantly. The tea, and Chartreuse add some depth and the Champagne lightens the whole mixture up.
Overall a decent fancy drink, that has some kick. If you have a sophisticated palate, you’d probably enjoy it and it might be a good gateway cocktail for a scotch or whisky drinker.