Barbary Coast – David Embury

1 part Orange Juice

1 part Italian Vermouth

4 parts Whisky

1 dash Chartreuse (yellow) to each drink

Shake with cracked ice and decorate with a twist of orange peel.

The Barbary coast classically refers to the Mediterranean coast of north Africa, an area at the time populated with pirates and slave traders. This is not where this drink gets its name from however.

In 1848 gold was discovered in the hills outside of San Francisco, and within 3 years the city had grown from 1000 to 300000. During this time a three block stretch of the city became known as the Barbary Coast due to extreme lawlessness. What followed over the next 6 decades was coloured with local gangs dispatching xenophobic violence (think ‘Gangs of New York’), boat loads of convicts from Australia, vigilante justice, gambling, prostitution and jazz clubs. One report states “I have seen purer liquors, better cigars, finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and bowie knives, and prettier courtesans here, than in any other place I have ever visited; and it is my unbiased opinion that California can and does furnish the best bad things that are obtainable in America”. From all accounts it sounds like the kind of place where navy seals are too scared to visit in small groups.

This was also the town where Jerry Thomas first tended bar, and where the Martinez, precursor to the Martini was invented, where you could walk into the hills and reach down and pick up a fortune in gold, a melting pot of criminality, creativity and extreme wealth.

The drink is also known as a Bishop, and if we think of it as a relative of the Manhattan then I think this is a more suitable name as it is much tamer than its east coast cousin. The Orange juice just waters down what could be an interesting drink. I tried it, didn’t like it, and tweaked it. Swapped the orange juice for green chartreuse, and the yellow chartreuse for a dash of orange bitters and it makes a much better drink, and with the punch the green chartreuse carries, much more appropriate to its name.