The Ford Cocktail first appeared in George Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks in 1895. Kappeler at the time of publication was the head bartender at the famous Holland House Hotel in Manhattan. His book is thought by many cocktail enthusiasts to be one of the most important cocktail books from that era since it introduced many recipes that had never before been available. In the preface he writes, “The recipes contained in this book are for the proper mixing of all kinds of drinks, such as Absinthe, Cocktails, Cups, Crustas, Cobblers, Coolers, Egg Noggs, Fixes, Fizzes, Flips, Juleps, Lemonades, Punches, Poussé Cafe, Frozen Beverages, etc. The formulas are simple, practical, and easy to follow and are especially intended for use in first-class Hotels, Clubs, Buffets, and Barrooms, where, if adopted and concocted according to directions given, they will be entirely satisfactory to the caterer and pleasing to the consumer, the latter of whom will immediately notice a marked improvement in his favorite beverages.”
Due to the timing of its introduction, it is thought that the origins of the cocktail’s name are most likely are connected with the famed athlete Malcolm Webster Ford rather than with the ultimately more famous Henry Ford. However, since Malcolm’s end was in the end very sad (murder and suicide…no, I’m not making that up), we chose to utilize the images of Henry Ford and his creation for photographing this cocktail. Unfortunately, a change in image didn’t save the taste. Based on the ingredients of gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters, I had my hopes up for a earthy martini due to the introduction of the Benedictine. Instead, we were left with a muddled flavor of musty herbs fighting against the light citrus and juniper berry. Perhaps with a change in proportions this drink might work, but we found its current incarnation weak and pointless.
The Ford Cocktail
1 oz – gin (we used Miller’s)
1 oz – dry vermouth (we used Noilly Prat)
3 dashes – Benedictine
3 dashes – orange bitters (we used Fee Brothers)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and stir until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with orange peel.