Great cocktails have keen names, and the Fallen Angel is idyllic. What is a fallen angel? It is a mythical creature that was held in high-esteem but due to folly they never reached their potential, at least not the ones thrust upon them. Foolery affects humans too, a few too many drinks and you may fall from grace—you know you’ve been there. Maybe Lucifer had a few too many good cocktails.
Another reason this name is great is that the recipe underachieves when it comes to flavour. The recipe comes from the 1930 edition of the Savoy cocktail book and states to use the juice of either half a lime or a full lemon. The only sweet flavour to balance out the tartness is two dashes of Creme de Menthe. That isn’t enough to bring the cocktail into balance making it a bit of a disappointment, but there is always redemption.
Cocktail recipes are not immutable, like the Book of Physics, cocktails are more like the Bible where you make things up as you go along. Popular cocktails, like a classic Daiquiri, do a great job of balancing the sweet and sour components, so should this drink. We can make adjustments.
For the astute readers, if we use lime, a Fallen Angel is almost a straight-up Southside, unless we use lemon juice, then we are in Gin Fix territory. All simple cocktails step on the feet of their peers, but some have better names.
Ingredients selection can make a difference. Fine tuning a Fallen Angel requires the right crème de menthe or a combination of simple syrup with a good quality creme de menthe. Without some additional sweetness, the Fallen Angel is too sour for most to enjoy.
The addition of mint to drink has a flavour enhancing effect. If you make a simple syrup with a few drops of peppermint/spearmint oil and use that in some cocktails, like the Daiquiri, you end up with a very refreshing cocktail. It doesn’t change the flavour as much as it alters the perception.
As for bitters, Angostura is universal, but if you can find one with a subtle anise flavour, it will work great with the mint. Many old cocktail recipes combined mint and anise/absinthe to great effect. Or, you can substitute a few dashes of Absinthe instead of bitters. I personally think this makes a better drink.
If you enjoy an extra sour cocktail, so be it, but if you are building a menu for a restaurant or bar, you need cocktail options that are balanced. If someone wants an out-of-balance cocktail, they can pull a Hemmingway and order it the way they like, all professional bartenders will be happy to accommodate requests. We also need to appeal to neophyte imbibers, because a lousy cocktail sends them back to beer and wine.
Cocktail recipes can be adjusted, but for the sake of future historians, write some notes about why you made the change. Tastes change, people like things slightly sweeter in 2018 compared to 1930. There is nothing wrong with evolution.
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