The Monkey Gland is an interesting cocktail, and it’s not just because of its unusual name. There are actually two versions of the Monkey Gland, one that originated in Europe and another in the United States. While both cocktails are composed of gin, orange juice, and grenadine, the final ingredient makes for two completely different cocktails. This week, we’ll explore the European version of the Monkey Gland, and next week, we’ll try the American version.
The Monkey Gland first appeared in print in Harry Craddock’s “Savoy Cocktail Book.” Published in 1930, during the American Prohibition, this tome from one of London’s top bartenders set out a recipe of gin, orange juice, grenadine, and absinthe. In recent years, absinthe has become legal in the US, and with its pronounced anise flavor, a little goes a long way.
So how did the Monkey Gland get such an unfortunate name? During Craddock’s Day, there was a Russian doctor in Paris doing some unusual surgeries. (Remember that these were the days before little blue pills allowed old gentlemen to retain their vigor.) The surgery that Dr. Serge Voronoff was famous for was grafting a section of testicular tissue from a monkey or chimpanzee onto a man’s testicles. Apparently, the thought during the time was that this surgery was a kind of fountain of youth guaranteed to restore health and vitality. Of course, history hasn’t been nearly as kind to Dr. Voronoff and his crackpot surgical procedures, but the Monkey Gland cocktail lives on as a remnant of another time. Just remember this the next time you see a bartender naming a drink after a little blue pill. Chances are, in another 75 years, no one will remember what blue pills did, and the very idea may be a quaint anachronism.
The Monkey Gland Cocktail (European Version)
Makes one cocktail.
- 2 ½ gin
- ¾ ounces orange juice
- ¼ ounces absinthe
- ¼ ounces grenadine
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
- Add ice, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.