April 27, 2012

The PDT Project: 20th Century

by Payman Bahmani

20th Century color

The 20th Century is a cocktail created in the 20th Century (1937 to be exact) by C.A. Tuck (I don’t know what C.A. stands for–Cocktail Aficionado perhaps?). It first appeared in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book written by William J. Tarling, and is named after the 20th Century Limited train line that operated from 1902 to 1967.

The train ran between New York City and Chicago, and could do so in 16 hours, making it one of the most advanced trains of its time. In addition to its technological superiority, the 20th Century Limited was renowned for its elegant Art Deco design, and offered peerless luxuries such as an on board barbershop and secreterial services. The term “red carpet treatment” also entered our lexicon as a result of this train, as passengers were greeted with a plush red carpet that was rolled out just for them.

20th Century dyptich

20th Century
1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
.75 oz Marie Brizard Crème de Cacao White
.75 oz Lillet Blanc
.75 oz lemon juice

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glassware: chilled coupe

Method: Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

This is one of my favorite shaken classic cocktails. It’s simple and ever refreshing, and rarely takes me more than a couple of minutes to knock one back. If you have a friend who is still ordering chocolate martinis, the 20th Century may assist in weaning them off that shameful habit. At the same time, if you’re a Gimlet lover, the 20th Century is a great way to branch out into another citrusy gin cocktail that has a little more complexity.

The crème de cacao provides subtle chocolate notes and plays well with the honey and orange notes of the Lillet, meanwhile the lemon juice provides the kick of lipsmacking tartness that I enjoy so much from great classic cocktails like the Daiquiri and Gimlet.

*This post is part of a series in which Payman takes on the task of making and writing about every cocktail featured in the PDT Cocktail Book, as well as providing an awesome photo of each drink taken by Vanessa Bahmani Photography.

**Got a question? He can be found on twitter @paystyle, you can email him at payman@pdtproject.com, or simply drop him a comment below.

6 Comments

  • Sam
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    The 20th Century is one of my favorites too. I love how the chocolate comes across as an almost funky, earthy aspect, as it contrasts with the gin’s floral botanicals. A lot going on in this one for sure. To ratchet up the intensity another notch, I’ll use Cocchi Americano in lieu of the less bitter Lillet. Diggin’ this series!

  • Posted April 27, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks Sam, Cocchi def a good call in this drink as well!

  • Posted April 28, 2012 at 4:30 am

    So, a chocolate instead of orange Corpse Reviver #2? Sounds delicious.

  • Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Jared, pretty good observation. Although the ratio of gin to other ingredients is 2:1 in the 20th century as opposed to being equal parts in the Corpse Reviver, so the gin stands out a bit more in the 20th century.

  • Greco
    Posted January 12, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    The best ratio, IMO, is the one by Gary Regan which is 3:1:1:1. But drop the creme de cacao slightly for best results. Also, do *not* use an americano as a substitute for the original Lillet blanc. Using Lillet is much better.

  • Posted January 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Greco – Thanks for reading but I couldn’t disagree more. The ratio you suggest yields a drink that I believe is neither sweet nor tart enough, and the gin dominates.

    If you read the recipe you’ll note that it uses Lillet Blanc, although we don’t use the original Lillet Blanc. Unfortunately the original Lillet Blanc hasn’t been available on the market for decades, and the current version is a less bitter reformulation of that, as you surely already know.

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