19 August 2009

Benito vs. the Cocktail: Lucien Gaudin

One of the many great, forgotten cocktails found in Ted Haigh's book is the Lucien Gaudin, made from ingredients that would cause a lover of vodka martinis to collapse in the fetal position. I had glanced at the recipe in the book, but was inspired to give it a shot after a post on Serious Eats written by Paul Clarke of Imbibe magazine and The Cocktail Chronicles blog.

The cocktail is named after French fencing legend Lucien Gaudin, famous for winning gold medals in the 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games. He also died from one of the saddest cases of bruised pride I've ever seen: "Gaudin committed suicide in 1934 after being wounded on the thumb by a nonfencer during a duel."

Compare that minor injury to the old Austrian "dueling scar" or Renommierschmiss that was a badge of honor and mark of social status. Ritual scarring is not unknown in various cultures around the world, but I wonder how Mom felt when young Helmut came home on Christmas break with his face sliced up from swordfighting at Universität.

Lucien Gaudin
1 oz. Gin
½ oz. Campari
½ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. White Vermouth

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir, and strain to serve.

This looks deceptively like cherry Kool-Aid®, but don't let the color fool you. Despite the presence of sugar in the Cointreau and Campari, there is nothing sweet about this cocktail. In fact, such sweetness as there is barely blunts the edge of an insanely bitter, orange peel-flavored cocktail. It's the bastard offspring of a Martini and a Negroni.

That's not a criticism; as stated many times I love bitter flavors. Bring me my coffee black, and my beer full of hops. I think that the Negroni is a little more balanced, but the Lucien Gaudin is a fun change of pace and it's always nice to have another Campari cocktail in the old recipe file.


fredric koeppel said...

"the sugar in Campari"?? Campari is as bitter as they come.

Benito said...


While the recipe of Campari is secret, it definitely has sugar in it. The sugar crystallizes around the screwcap (making an old bottle hard to open) and if you spill it, it quickly becomes a sticky mess. Without that sugar in there, it might be completely undrinkable.

From a visit to the factory by a Saveur writer:

"The recipe reportedly has not changed since that time: Campari is a blend of equal parts of alcohol, sugar syrup, distilled water, and an infusion flavored with oranges, rhubarb, and... ginseng, as well as a mixture of herbs."


fredric koeppel said...

My friend, I bow to your expertise in these matters.

Benito said...

Fredric, mon ami,

If I need to know details about distinguished domaines or chateaux in France, I will call you. And I hope that if the topic is about a reprehensible liquor brewed from pine tree roots by the inmates of a Slovenian prison, you will give me a call, because I'll try anything once.


TumTum said...

>>I wonder how Mom felt when young Helmut came home on Christmas break with his face sliced up from swordfighting at Universität.<<

Oh my... I didn't show my face for 2 weeks to my mother after I was hit in one of my duels - but today the wounds are treated with much more care resulting in minor scarring. Also your link is horrible, wrong or at best filled with half-truth... try this instead:

Oh, alsmost forgot: I like the Lucien Gaudin as a Negroni substitute if the weather is really hot.