Created at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, The Astoria is a post-prohibition cocktail and featured in their 1931 cocktail book.
It’s a play on the reverse martini, but uses Old Tom gin. Old Tom style gins were all the rage before distilling techniques improved and sweeteners were no longer added to mask the flavour of inferior gins. They declined in popularity to such an extent that they disappeared. However, the cocktail renaissance and interest in old cocktail books (where Old Tom was used prolifically) has seen may brands reissue recipes from the archives, like Tanqueray and Hayman’s.
It isn’t always easy to swap London Dry for Old Tom gin. In general Old Tom gins add a richer dimension to older cocktails and work best in Martinez and Tom Collins’. Some brands are more versatile than others. Jensen’s is a favourite here, probably because they have relied on their botanical mix to create the sweet flavour, rather than add sugar. It makes a lovely G&T.
Look for tell-tale signs of sugar-crystallization around bottle tops, an indication of too much sugar being added to the gin.
Ingredients for The Astoria
60ml dry vermouth
30ml Old Tom gin (I used Jensen’s)
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.