The American Beauty is the liquid definition of a dark horse. If you glance at the ingredients list you’ll see brandy, crème de menthe, dry vermouth, ruby port?! and more – where does the madness end?! Surely they can’t marry well together, I mean I was half expecting the kitchen sink to be listed at the end! To cut a long story short, I mixed this drink anticipating to not enjoy the results at all.
I was wrong. Whoever made this thing is a damned genius and a true craftsman; to be able to take so many different – and distinctive – flavours and use them to create a layered experience like this one is a genuine art form. You start out with a very light and refreshing mint flavour, indeed barely a tingle on your tongue, before the rich sweetness of the port and grenadine merrily tap dance through – but they never overwhelm. In fact, the mint liqueur manages to even out the sweetness brilliantly and keeps the drink lighter than you would expect even as the port and brandy create unexpected depths to the flavour profile.
My one issue with the American Beauty is that the original recipe calls for the ruby port to be floated on top. I’m not sure if it’s my floating skills, the port we have, or something else but it just won’t float worth a damn. Instead it sinks so hard the Titanic would be envious and the syrupy goodness which should be coming through (in theory) first ends up pooling at the bottom of the glass with a thin and slightly murky layer of the other ingredients on top. This does affect the taste of the cocktail; the mint is harsher and every sip has a slight edge to it. I would personally recommend mixing the port with the rest of the ingredients and serving it all together – it looks nicer and tastes much better.
This drink is almost certainly going to be a regular feature at Geek & Tonic HQ; it’s just that good.
This is how the American Beauty looks when mixed. Such class, very wow.
♦ ½ ounce brandy
♦ ½ ounce dry vermouth
♦ ½ ounce orange juice
♦ ¼ teaspoon grenadine
♦ ¼ teaspoon crème de menthe (white if available)
♦ ¾ ounce ruby port
Original: Shake all the ingredients except for the ruby port together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float the port on top and then serve.
Geek & Tonic: Shake all the ingredients together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.