Trilby – Recipe from the ‘Old Waldorf Bar Guide’

Dash of Orange Bitters 

One-third French Vermuth 

Two-thirds Tom Gin 

One dash of Creme Yvette 

Stir; strain

Trilby was a novel by George du Marnier written in 1894, which based on the popularity of the book was swiftly turned into a play. In the London production of this play a certain hat was worn by several cast members, this quickly became referred to as a trilby hat and was soon the head ware of choice for the discerning automobilist as it sat quite low on your head meaning it didn’t have to be removed while roaming the highways.

It gained popularity when the rat pack adopted it, and has maintained a presence in fashion ever since, despite our reluctance to wear hats these days.

The play was also the birth place of one of literatures most famous characters, Svengali, a musician and hypnotist who you’ll be unsurprised to find out manipulates and controls the heroine of the story.

As the recipe is from the Waldorf guide, and most of the references in the guide are to the late 1800’s early 1900’s I’m guessing the drink is named after the play, or book, and not the hat. I’m hoping there’s a Svengali cocktail out there waiting to be stumbled across, its not in any of my books though.

The drink itself is a good one, and despite the low amount of Violet in the drink it comes through nicely over the vermouth, I suspect it’s the sweetness in the gin that helps push it forwards. It’s a lovely combination of ingredients, the violet works beautifully with gin, adding to its floral notes wonderfully (I used Gorilla Old Tom gin for this one, something of a new favourite). I’m not a big fan of the colour blue or green in drinks, having had a firm rule not to drink anything the same colour as cleaning products, a rule born out of caution caused by the people I’ve worked with rather than a bad experience. This would mark my second exception to this rule, the first being the Aviation. I wonder which came first, the Aviation was first in print just before the first world war, but if this drink was getting called over the bar at the Waldorf at the same time as the play was released it would pre-date it by a few years.