I was living in England when the screen version of Anthony Burgess’ “A Clockwork Orange” was released, and I had to drive to a nearby town to see it because authorities in my neck of the woods had banned the flick.
If you’ve any idea what Blackpool, the tacky seaside resort on England’s northwest coast where I spent much of my childhood, is all about, you’ll find the notion of them banning anything whatsoever to be pretty laughable. Think of a combination of Vegas and Atlantic City with fish and chips, and you’ll get the idea. Like millions of others I was taken by Stanley Kubrick’s movie, and it wasn’t long before I was demanding eggy-wegs with lomticks of toast for breakfast.
A few years later, when I got a gig behind the stick in New York, I tried selling Veteran cocktails – rum and cherry brandy – to anyone who’d listen, just because that’s what Alex, the main character in the movie, drank at the Duke of New York, the pub he frequented when he wasn’t sipping Moloko Plus at the Korova Milk Bar. Veterans never really took off, though. Burgess had a way with words, but his cocktailian skills left something to be desired.
There’s a guy in New Jersey, though, who knows how to fix a good drink, and his latest creation initially caught my eye because he called it A Clockwork Orange.
Chris Halleron tends bar at Duffy’s, an Irish joint in Hoboken, N.J., and although I’ve crossed its doorstep only once – I judged its “Worst Bartender in Hoboken” competition a few years back – I have to say that Duffy’s is one of my favorite bars. You’re made to feel at home immediately – even when the city’s worst bartenders are behind the stick.
Halleron is a bartender of the old school, and his new drink isn’t one of those 21st century masterpieces that calls for ingredients such as freshly picked lavender smoked over a bed of smoldering Lapsang Souchong tea. At first glance, in fact, the only thing the drink has going for it are the gigantic quantities of booze called for in the recipe. But there’s a surprise in store for those who make this baby. It’s a pretty fabulous drink.
“This cocktail is also known as ‘A Glass of Evil,’ ” wrote Halleron when he passed his recipe my way, and any drink that calls for a full four ounces of Scotch is bound to possess some devilish qualities. Cut the quantities of the ingredients in half, though, and you’re left with an eminently quaffable potion.
Halleron calls for simply “blended Scotch” in his recipe, and here’s where you get the chance to add your own personality to the drink. I don’t recommend that you use an overly smoky single-malt Scotch to make A Clockwork Orange, but if you want to spring for a dram of, say, the 18-year-old Chivas Regal, the drink takes on a life of its own.
Dewar’s 12-year-old works well in this drink, too, and you can’t go too far wrong with the Johnnie Walker Black Label, either. Johnnie Walker’s Gold Label Scotch is my favorite in its lineup, but it’s a little too delicate for the likes of a Clockwork Orange. And “A Clockwork Orange,” be it in the form of a book, a movie or a cocktail, is anything but delicate.
Makes 1 drink
Adapted from a recipe by Chris Halleron at Duffy’s, Hoboken, N.J.
2 ounces blended Scotch
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce orange juice
1 dash orange bitters
1 orange slice, as garnish
Instructions: Place Scotch, Grand Marnier, orange juice and bitters in a shaker. Add ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Add orange slice to garnish.
(c) 2009 San Francisco Chronicle