The beauty in the Monkey Gland cocktail is its simplicity. A variation on the tried and trusted combo of gin and juice it is perfectly refreshing to sip when other more exotic concoctions tire the palate. Having said that, try not to leave out the absinthe as its aniseed flavour prevents the cocktail from becoming bland and two dimensional.
Despite its almost puritanical simplicity, the Monkey Gland has a rather sordid past. Created in the 1920s by Harry MacElhone at his Harry’s New York Bar in Paris for some unfathomable reason he decided to name it after the work of the Russian-born émigré to France, scientist and surgeon Dr Serge Voronoff.
There is no polite way of putting it, Voronoff spent his career grafting monkey testicles on to the testicles of elderly Frenchmen to improve their vigour and virility and prolong life. He even wrote a book about it: Life: A Study of the Means of Restoring Vital Energy and Prolonging Life. It is said that by 1927 he had grafted (or shafted) over 1,000 patients.
Of course, it didn’t work and he was eventually discredited. By the 1940s there was no more monkeying around and he died in poverty in 1951.
Glass: Martini or cocktail
- 50ml / 1.75oz London Dry Gin
- 30ml / 1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 drops grenadine
- Use a few mls of the absinthe to rinse out a chilled martini glass.
- Shake the other three ingredients in a shaker with ice.
- Strain into the chilled glass.
- My personal preference is not to strain the cocktail as I quite like the small pieces of orange in my Monkey Gland.
Variation: use blood orange juice.
This is one cocktail that won’t sulk if you leave out a garnish.
Buy the ingredients here: