Food & Drink » Remix

Remix: For Valentine’s Day, try a Monkey Gland cocktail (yuck?)

It tastes better than it sounds.


  • Jessica Bryce Young

The Monkey Gland

Hey there, lovebirds! With Valentine’s Day in the offing, you probably want a cocktail that’ll really get things revving in the bedroom department, right? OK, just kidding; I know that my sophisticated readers are perfectly aware that this is a ridiculous notion – the more cocktails you imbibe, the less revving is likely to happen. On Valentine’s Day, what you really want is a cocktail so perfect that just one will satisfy you, something sweet and bitter and effervescent as the feeling of falling in love.

Another ridiculous notion is having chopped-up monkey testicles surgically implanted in your own testicles, but that horrifying practice is exactly what this drink is named for. The Monkey Gland cocktail, first recorded in Harry MacElhone’s 1927 recipe guide, Barflies and Cocktails, memorializes the surgical specialty of one Serge Voronoff, a Russian doctor who speculated that grafting monkey testicle tissue onto human testicles would slow the aging process and cure, ahem, bedroom problems. Let it never be said that Jazz Age bartenders didn’t have a grim sense of humor.

With such a colorful name (and such a graphic backstory), it’s a little surprising how humdrum the drink itself is: equal parts gin and orange juice, pinked up with grenadine (a revolting substance) and served in an absinthe-washed glass. Since absinthe was outlawed shortly after the drink’s genesis, American bartenders substituted Bénédictine, an herbal liqueur that, frankly, works much better in the drink. In the Remix of the Monkey Gland, I’ve made things more complex, but I think you’ll find it’s a much more enjoyable experience. Toast each other with one (or maybe two). And hey, if you’re not toasting a beloved, it goes down just as sweet with friends old or new.

2 ounces gin
2 ounces orange juice
1/4 ounce grenadine
dash of absinthe

Swirl the absinthe in a chilled glass to coat the sides, then dump any excess. Pour the gin, orange juice and grenadine into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well, then strain into the glass.

2 ounces gin
2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice (see Note, below)
1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1/2 ounce Hum Botanical Spirit
2 ounces cava or prosecco
8 drops blood orange bitters
dash of Bénédictine

Swirl the Bénédictine in a coupe glass to coat the sides, then dump any excess. Pour the juice, gin, Hum and Luxardo into a shaker with ice, shake well, and strain into the glass. Top off with sparkling wine. Add bitters (do not stir) and serve.

Note: If you cannot commit to fresh-squeezed orange juice, Noble brand tangerine juice is a good bottled alternative.


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