Vodka Special – Embury

1 part crème de cacao

2 parts lemon juice

8 parts vodka

Shake thoroughly with cracked or crushed ice

Another vodka special uses cherry liqueur in place of crème de cacao and lime juice in place of lemon


In 2004 we saw the release of one of my favourite and inspiring cocktail books of the last 20 years, Ted Haigh’s ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails’. It’s a reasonable length, from memory about 120 drinks long, and the drinks are great. As you can probably guess from the title he’s combed old books and found his favourite less than familiar drinks. When it came out I slowly worked my way from the front to the back, and in the process picked up some of my favourite drinks. One of them was a 20th Century Cocktail, a cocktail created in 1937 by a British bartender named C.A. Tuck, and named after a train which ran between New York City and Chicago.

This drink is Gin, Lillet blanc, lemon juice and Crème de cacao, and it caught my eye as it was one of the first times I saw chocolate paired with citrus in a cocktail. I really liked the drink, its one of those drinks where the sum of the parts is far greater than the parts themselves.

We tried it on the list at Goat, it didn’t move so well, and even now one of our drinks plays on this ‘sour chocolate’ combination, a combination that really needs to be championed by bartenders in order for it to move, as they both crawled out across the bars.

On flipping through Embury looking for vodka based drinks this one caught my eye, and on tasting rightfully so. It again has Embury’s favourite 8-2-1 ratio for a sour, and proves again that this ratio is a little magical when it comes to putting together drinks.

Unlike the 20th Century the chocolate is more pronounced, not having to stand up against the gin or the Lillet, and the drink really does end up chocolate forward. Looking online I saw a variant of this using tequila from PDT’s Jim Meehan, which I can’t wait to try on getting back into the UK.

I really like this drink, it will become one of my ‘go to’ vodka drinks, its just a shame that whoever came up with it wasn’t quite as creative in the naming stakes as Mr C. A. Tuck.