Sunday 6 January 2019

The Jack Calloway cocktail

Not many of us get to have cocktails named after us—it tends to be film stars (Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin) or statesmen (Roosevelt, Colonel Rickey, who allegedly invented the Rickey). So I was intrigued when a chap named Jack Calloway recently joined the New Sheridan Club and, on the application form where we ask a number of vapid questions, gave his favourite cocktail as “The Jack Calloway”.*

Jack’s the leader of a 1930s-style dance orchestra. “The cocktail was created in Bristol three or four years ago when the dance orchestra was first starting out,” he explains. “We used to rehearse in a bar called the Bootlegger on Gloucester Road. I was fond of Charlie Chaplins [sloe gin, apricot brandy and lime juice] but asked the barman, Drew Pratley, if he could make me something that better suited my sweet tooth. He asked me various alcoholic questions and came up with the Jack Calloway. He wanted something sweet and cheeky but with a ‘debaucherous’ party vibe— much like myself, apparently.”

Naturally I had to try this cocktail out. Here is the recipe Jack gives:

Jack Calloway
Blackberries and blueberries
1–2 shots vodka
1 shot crème de cassis
1 shot elderflower liqueur or cordial
Juice of half a lime.
Fill a shaker with blackberries and blueberries and crush thoroughly. Add the other ingredients. Shake well with ice, pour dirty in a fancy tumbler, or in my case a fine champagne coupe. To finish, squeeze a final wedge of lime over the mixture and let it float in the glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

I found that 6 blackberries and 12 blueberries seemed an appropriate amount. It’s an interesting drink, obviously dominated by the berries; the elderflower presence is subtle (though in fairness the St Germain liqueur I used was quite old, so possible not as puissant as it used to be). Overall it’s a bit sweet for me, although adding more lime juice didn’t quite seem to work, so perhaps it is what it is. Obviously the vodka isn’t really contributing to the flavour—I tried it with gin, but it didn’t work for some reason. I also tried it with white rum, which I thought was OK, though Mrs H. thought otherwise, feeling that the sugariness of the rum made it seem too sweet.

If you have a sweetish tooth and like berries, give this one a try, though it needs a bit of patience to do all the muddling, and it takes a long time to pour through all the pulp! It strikes me also that if you’re doing “Dry January” (shudder) and you are bewitched by the berry/elderflower combo, you could make a virgin version of this using elderflower cordial.

* In truth that is a stage name and not entirely his real name. The surname was chosen in homage to Cab Calloway.

Fine-strained for fancy folk

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