Hugh Eakin’s Picasso’s War documents the arrival of modern art in America in electrifying fashion. With the shadow of World War II looming over his narrative and a historic Picasso exhibit serving as the hinging point, Eakin paints a vivid picture of how the modern art movement finally broke through in the United States.
To accompany Eakin’s thrilling work of art history, this month we present a drink that draws inspiration from an era-appropriate classic cocktail. However, our version has enough avant-garde flourishes to make it an appropriate pairing to a story with an iconoclast like Pablo Picasso at its center.
The Lion’s Tail cocktail first appeared in 1937’s Café Royal Cocktail Book, published in London, but it likely originated years earlier in New York. It has a similar build to a standard whiskey sour, but the addition of lime and allspice dram (a rum-based liqueur made with allspice berries and other baking spices) pushes it slightly into the realm of tiki cocktails, which grew in popularity during the late 1930s.
Our take on the Lion’s Tail—named after Picasso’s iconic painting, The Weeping Woman—brings in some heat and additional notes of baking spice with a couple dashes of pimento bitters. Then, a fruity yet boozy punch enters the mix by way of eau de vie, an explosive and perfumed unaged fruit brandy, which, in this case, is made from raspberries. Finally, to represent the literal and metaphorical transatlantic voyage of modern art from Europe to America, a pinch of salt is added. Rather than making the drink taste salty, the addition of salt simultaneously enhances sweetness and tames bitterness, which helps to balance the competing bold flavors in this drink.
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