When my brother was younger, he had one of those Raffi-ish (but not Raffi, I think) kids’ tapes that he listened to a lot, with a song that went “Zanzibar, Zanzibar, Zanzibar is very far/you can’t get there in a car.”  I realize that I could get more info, lyrics, and, yes, probably an audio file just by googling that lyric, but I’m trying to preserve the fuzzy magic of memory.  The point being, I can’t really take anything to do with Zanzibar very seriously.  But this cocktail might make me start.

Zanzibar (The Savoy Cocktail Book)

  • 1 1/2 oz French vermouth (Dolin Blanc)
  • 1/2 oz gin (Ransom Old Tom)
  • 1/2 ozlemon lime juice
  • 1-2 barspoons simple syrup
  • 3 dashesorange bitters (Angostura Orange)
    Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.

As altered above, this was delicious.  The Angostura Orange combined with the lime juice and essential oils to give an impression of maraschino without any being present.  I think the lime juice was a much better choice than lemon (and not just because I don’t have any lemons at the moment) – its floral complexity paired really well with the hefty dose of highly aromatic orange bitters.  Finally, the Dolin Blanc (inspired by Erik Ellestad’s recent meditations on substituting white for dry vermouth in general and in this cocktail, specifically) was lovely, and I just left out the sugar entirely.

The result of all this fiddling was a dry – but not mouth-puckering – sour, with just the right amount of heft from the gin to not only serve as an aperitif for the appetite, but for conversation as well.  Highly, highly recommended.  With the lime juice, that is.