Vision of division

This month’s Mixology Monday challenge, Perfect Symmetry, explores a way to create cocktails which consists of taking one element in an existing recipe and splitting it into two related elements, in equal parts. The most famous example is probably the Perfect Manhattan, where the vermouth is divided into sweet and dry. This concept is nothing new, and as I was sipping on a rye and armagnac Sazerac earlier this week, I realized that it already met the requirements of the challenge.

Sazerac with Rittenhouse rye, Delord Napoleon Armagnac, demerara syrup, Peychaud's and Angostura bitters, St. George absinthe

“Perfect” Sazerac
to a mixing glass add:
1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 oz Delord Napoleon armagnac
1 barspoon 2:1 Demerara syrup
5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
add ice, stir, strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass sprayed with St. George absinthe
lemon twist, discarded

But I had something else in mind. Earlier, as I was exploring the cocktails in the new Death & Co Cocktail Book, the Joy Division had caught my eye. Phil Ward’s creation, it is a dry Martini with Cointreau and a few drops of absinthe to round things off. The Savoy Cocktail book has something very similar with the Yellow Daisy (Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau). I tried the Joy Division and found it to a beautiful cocktail. Restrained, almost austere, but with an oily vanilla finish that comes out of nowhere.

Joy Division (Phil Ward) with Beefeater gin, Dolin dry vermouth, Cointreau, St. George absinthe

Joy Division (Phil Ward)
to a mixing glass add:
2 oz Beefeater gin
1 oz Dolin dry vermouth
0.5 oz Cointreau
3 dashes Vieux Pontarlier absinthe (St. George absinte verte)
stir with ice, strain into a chilled coupe
lemon twist garnish

I decided to work on this template. The Third Degree, a dry Martini with absinthe, had already been turned into the Fourth Degree by splitting the vermouth into dry and sweet. So why not apply to the same treatment to the Joy Division? Little did I realize what I was getting into. The Savoy Cocktail Book alone has more than a hundred recipes that are based on a combination of gin and vermouth. Narrowing down the search to cocktails that also contain absinthe, that’s still more than 30 cocktails. Coming up with something original and interesting was going to be a challenge.

Joy Division with sweet and dry vermouths
Joy Division with sweet and dry vermouths

And indeed, the Savoy already had something similar to a Joy Division with sweet and dry vermouths, the Weeseur Special Cocktail, although is uses curaçao instead of triple sec, and two times less gin. I knew I had to work a little harder to come up with an original recipe.

I thought again and decided to split the base liquor in addition to the vermouth. I considered gin and brandy, a pairing that is rarely seen but can be successful. Gin and apple brandy is even less common, but I thought it was relevant, especially for a fall cocktail.

Vision of Division
Experimenting with Barolo Chinato – beautiful reddish brown color, but on the sweet side

The end result is still very much anchored in the Martini/Martinez tradition, and feels light and elegant. The calvados adds earthiness and an apple finish that marries well with the sweet vermouth. I tried a version with Barolo Chinato and, although the dried fruit notes were pleasant, the cocktail was a bit unbalanced towards the sweeter side. With Dolin red and white vermouths, gin and calvados, the cocktail achieves harmony.

Vision of Division
 The final version with Dolin sweet vermouth, with a dark golden color

Vision of Division
to a mixing glass add:
1 oz Beefeater gin
1 oz Daron XO calvados
0.5 oz Dolin dry vermouth
0.5 oz Dolin sweet vermouth
0.5 oz Cointreau
3 dashes St. George absinthe verte
stir with ice, strain into a chilled coupe
lemon twist, discarded


Although the recipe for the Joy Division in the Death & Co Cocktail Book instructs to garnish the drink with the lemon twist, the photo does not show the garnish in the drink. Additionally, a recipe published online for the book launch party instructs to discard the lemon twist. So I made it per the recipe in book the first time, but discarded the lemon twist when I made the JD variations.

My thanks to Joel of Southern Ash  for hosting this month challenge, and Fred Yarm of cocktail virgin slut for overseeing this fun monthly cocktail event.


4 thoughts on “Vision of division

  1. I’ll try the last one for sure: The Dempsey-cocktail is one of my favourites and a great exemple of when calvados and gin work together. And I love a Martinez anyday. Cheerio!

      • I stick with the instructions from tje bartender that introduced me to the cocktail; 3,5 cl gin,1,5 cl calvados,a barspoon if grenadin and absinth-rinsed glas. I often use red-current syrup instead of grenadin with gives it a lovely acidity or if I use grenadin it is home-made( and I add some rosewater to it, because I put rosewater in almost anything).

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