Friday Cocktail: The Monkey Gland

By Anne Alexander

Published on January 18, 2014

My dad came up to New York to visit not too long ago, and knowing he's a man of particular tastes—meat and potatoes, mostly—I decided to take him to a stellar contemporary steakhouse in Brooklyn that doesn't take reservations. We put our names down at the host stand and headed down the street in search of the pre-dinner cocktail I knew we both needed, ending up at a place that—thanks to its beautiful bar, warm, sleek décor, and classic cocktail list—was decidedly dad-friendly. After a skim of the cocktail menu, we both landed on the Monkey Gland, a classic drink from the 1920s that balances gin and fresh orange juice with a splash of Absinthe and a little pomegranate grenadine. A first sip revealed the drink to be floral, herbal, bright, acidic, and refreshing; it's a supremely enjoyable cocktail, even for a gal like me that doesn't have much of a taste for gin. When I heard the strange story behind the name, I liked it even more: credited to Harry McElhone, the famed proprietor of Harry's New York Bar in Paris, the drink's name was inspired by experiments the surgeon Serge Voronoff performed in the arena of "male enhancement." An odd story to listen to alongside your dad, perhaps, but I'm glad he has a dark enough sense of humor to enjoy a good tale along with a good drink.

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