Of all the drinks in the world, the monkey gland can quickly become a favorite. It's a little tricky, but if you get the balance of flavor right, this classic cocktail with an unusual name is phenomenal.
The sweetened combination of gin, orange juice, and grenadine makes a really nice drink. Yet, it's only with the hint of absinthe that it becomes really fascinating. Most recipes for the monkey gland suggest adding a splash of absinthe or one of its many substitutes to the shaker, but there's something to the subtlety of rinsing the glass. This creates a nice, fruity cocktail with the slightest taste of anise as contrast and an intoxicating aroma.
Gather the ingredients.
Swirl a dash of absinthe in a chilled cocktail glass to coat it, then dump out any excess liqueur.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, pour the gin, orange juice, and grenadine.
Strain into the prepared glass.
Garnish with an orange slice or a flamed orange peel. Serve and enjoy.
- London dry gin is the preferred style for the monkey gland.
- Fresh-squeezed orange juice is highly recommended. The average orange should yield enough juice for two to three drinks.
- If you're making a single monkey gland, juice half the orange and use the other half for the orange slice garnish.
- When opting for the orange peel, cut it from the whole fruit before juicing. Use a pairing knife to cut a thick strip about 2 inches long. To flame it, hold the peel over the glass, light a match, and gently express the oils through the flame and into the drink; you'll see little sparks.
Who Created the Monkey Gland Cocktail?
In his 1922 "Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails" book, Harry MacElhone took credit for the monkey gland's invention. MacElhone was one of the many American bartenders who left during Prohibition. He ran Harry's New York Bar in Paris, France, where he created numerous famous cocktails, including the French 75 and bloody mary. His bartending guides are a fantastic reference for classic cocktail recipes.
Why Is It Called the Monkey Gland?
MacElhone claimed that the experiments of Dr. Serge Voronoff inspired the name. In the 1920s, the surgeon focused on male enhancement treatments, the most famous of which involved grafting monkey testicle tissue (or monkey glands) to human testicles. Voronoff became well-known for this rather shocking technique and received a considerable amount of ridicule. He died in near obscurity in the 1950s. His boldness lives on in the name of this cocktail as well as monkey gland sauce, which was reportedly created by French chefs working in South Africa.
- The monkey gland appears in numerous 20th-century bartending guides, and each has subtle differences. Some use just a dash or two of grenadine or a little more orange juice, and many recommend shaking the drink with cracked ice. You might find these adjustments a better fit as you explore different styles and brands of gin.
- During the time that absinthe was illegal in the U.S., many bartenders learned to make this drink with Bénédictine. It is an excellent drink as well, though it has an entirely different profile.