the appetizer:

Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails: 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them by Ted Haigh, includes drink recipes like The Blue Moon, The Monkey Gland, and The Vesper.

Cookbook Profile

The Monkey Gland


The Monkey Gland


Shake vigorously in an iced cocktail shaker, and strain into a small cocktail glass.


Monkey Gland ingredients

Pa-Poose Grenadine, New Orleans circa 1950s. Pernod absinthe circa 1910, Booth's Gin circa 1933. Prohibition at its Worst, 1926. The Saloon in the Home, 1930.

The latter book made righteous fun of the Noble Experiment, pairing fervent temperance songs with cocktail recipes.

Prohibition turned out to be a boon to rebellious cocktail creation. The symbolic flagship of the Prohibition venue was undoubtedly Harry's Bar, which was far from American shores: I do not mean the famous one named after Harry Pickering in Venice, Italy, cozy and traditional as it might be, but rather the 1920s beehive of activity that was Harry McElhone's joint, Harry's New York Bar-situated, ironically, in Paris. This venue embodied the spirit of Gatsby, of flappers, and of moneyed Americans abroad. From this wellspring flowed the cocktail that, to my mind, is most associated with Prohibition, the Monkey Gland.

Veteran vaudevillian Billy Meyers sang of it in "Made a Monkey Out of Me," whose lyrics contain an extended double entendre: referring to how the drink presumably made you act and the procedure from which its name derived. This medical procedure, pioneered by Dr. Serge Voronoff and very au courant in Paris in the mid-twenties, involved transplanting a monkey testicle into male humans to "rejuvenate" them. Claims were made of it being a veritable fountain of youth, but it was really the promise of the gland's aphrodisiac effects that caught everyone's imagination.

Drink Note

Some recipes have altered the ingredients (presumably to preclude the use of the frowned-upon absinthe), substituting, instead, Benedictine. As a matter of fact, I've seen this substitution in several old cocktails that originally contained absinthe. I'll guess this was not entirely happenstance. Whereas the learned cocktailians Gary and Mardee Regan prefer this style, I find the original recipe remains entirely persuasive and is, in fact, a crowd-pleaser. You can also vary it, as some have done, using 2 ounces (1/3 gill, 6 cl) of gin to 1 ounce (1/4 gill, 3 cl) of orange juice, if it suits you.


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This page created October 2009