American history is full of colorful characters, and none more so than the 19th century’s Jerry Thomas. Born in New York in the early part of the century, he was at various times a gold miner in California, a sailor, an art collector, a theater producer (in a small way), and a gambler. But it was as a bartender that he really left his mark.
Thomas, who at some point in his life acquired the moniker “The Professor,” was mixing drinks for folks by the age of 17. A bit of an easy going nomad, he tended bar in London, in the boomtowns of Virginia City, Nevada, and gold-rush San Francisco, not to mention a number of places in between. He eventually owned a series of fashionable bars of his own in New York City, where he died in 1885.
Thomas’s real gift to the ages was the first written manual of mixology, How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant’s Companion, which was first published in 1862 and is suitable for both the professional and sophisticated amateur alike. The book contains more than 200 recipes for noggs and punches, flips and juleps, fizzes and shrubs and — interestingly — a host of drinks that feature cider as part of the mix.
One such drink is the cider nectar, a concoction of cider, sherry, brandy, soda water, lemon and extract of pineapple, whatever that may be. It’s an interesting drink, but with a little tweaking the modern mixologist can arrive at something even more convivial. Start by using a great pineapple cider, such as 2 Town Ciderhouse’s Pacific Pineapple or Ace Pineapple instead of the cider and soda water. Then swap the sherry for rum. You end up with a drink that embodies a tropical vibe that’s perfect for beach or barbecue.
Makes 1 drink
1 ounce brandy
1 ounce dark or amber rum
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup or agave syrup
3 ounces pineapple cider
fresh pineapple chunks for a garnish
Stir the brandy, rum, lemon juice and simple syrup together in a mixing glass until well combined. Stir in the cider then pour over a generous glass of ice. Garnish with a couple of pineapple chunks.
Adapted from Cider Cocktails – Another Bite of the Apple by Darlene Hayes