DOTW: Oh, Henry!

Posted by Anita on 11.23.07 7:14 AM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedWhen DPaul asked me to tend bar at Sean‘s birthday cocktail party, I jumped at the chance. All the fun of planning and serving drinks to our friends, but none of the mess? Sign me up! In all honesty, it seemed a simple enough assignment. My only limitations: Neither Sean nor Paul is a fan of gin (something we’re planning on addressing next year), and Sean has a well-known horreur of orange.

I wanted to keep things interesting without going overboard — no complicated lists of ingredients to be purchased, schlepped, and mixed. I also wanted drinks that were flavorful but not too strong. Drinking Martinis and Manhattans all night leaves a dreadful impression the next morning, especially for folks who aren’t used to anything stronger than a glass of red wine.

Paging back through a year’s worth of Drinks of the Week, I was astonished by how many were gin based. (Well over half, can you believe it?) Most of those that remained were either seasonally inappropriate, or not suited to serving in quantity. The lone successful candidate was a variation on our own Rosemary Five, tweaked ever so slightly by substituting lemon juice for the original lime. The birthday boy’s a big fan of pears, and the other ingredients are common enough that none of the guests would be spooked.

I wanted another effervescent drink for a second option, but none of the bubbly drinks in our repertoire seemed like a good fit for the occasion. Flipping through cocktail books, I noticed a few mentions of a tipple called the Oh, Henry! — a blend of ginger ale, Benedictine, and Bourbon (or whiskey, in some Continental sources). Mixed in equal proportions as some books suggested, the drink was far too sweet and overpowered by the Benedictine’s spice. But dropping the ratios to 2:2:1 worked perfectly when using a saucy Bourbon and a fiesty ginger ale. (We paired Knob Creek and Blenheim for the party, although Fever-Tree works fine if you prefer a subtler variation.)

If I do say so myself, both drinks were well received. The Oh, Henry!’s bourbon base made it a tougher sell, but I spied a number of folks being converted by a sip of their neighbor’s drink, and coming back for the darker cocktail on their second round. Could this be a gateway drink for the bourbon-averse?

Not surprisingly, this simple mix has become a favorite in our house, too. It’s a perfect autumn-into-winter blend of sugar and spice, with just enough herbal undertones to keep everything grounded. The star anise garnish — stolen from the Falling Leaves — is our own touch, a complementary (and attractive) addition to the drink’s aromatic profile.

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

Oh, Henry!
1-1/2 oz bourbon
1-1/2 oz ginger ale
3/4 oz Benedictine

Stir all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a piece of star anise, if desired.

Drink of the Week, drinks, holidays & occasions, other blogs, recipes



Comment by cookiecrumb

Your picture looks very Halloweeny. (Seasonally inappropriate!)
Sounds delish.

Posted on 11.23.07 at 3:58PM

Comment by Dagny

My first thought when I saw the photo was, “There’s a spider floating in it.” On second glance, I realized that it was star anise. So yeah, I can understand the Halloweeny feel to it. Sounds OK though even if it doesn’t have gin.

Posted on 11.23.07 at 7:32PM

Comment by Robert Heugel

Thanks for writing about this drink. I love a good one of these. It is so simple and fits so well for people who want a Manhattan or Old Fashioned alternative that doesn’t get too carried away. I haven’t made these in a while, and I am going to start again tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration.

Posted on 11.24.07 at 12:32AM

Comment by Graeme

Oh, Anita!

Great recipe, beautiful photograph. I love Ginger ale.

Posted on 11.24.07 at 10:25AM

Comment by Wendy

LOL!!! ok ok I’ll have Dayne make me an O’Henry and give it a whirl….. Murray also tried to convert me last week with a Cameron’s Kick!

Posted on 11.24.07 at 10:30AM

Trackback by Hedonia

I have good friends…

Last weekend, my darling husband hosted a cocktail party in my honor of my thirty-somethingth birthday. I had a lovely time, mingling with my bestest friends and nibbling on nummy noshes courtesy of DPaul. I received several lovely gifts, but…

Posted on 11.24.07 at 11:21AM

Comment by Aimee

This looks crazy good–I love star anise! But of a bummer to be pregnant (not really!) when there are drinks out there like this!

Posted on 11.24.07 at 5:57PM

Comment by scomorokh

Great foto as usually!

Posted on 11.27.07 at 12:32PM

Comment by Grant

Just tried this one…though I’m not fond of bourbon, I’m warming up to it thanks to this drink. Thanks!

Posted on 12.21.07 at 8:35PM

Comment by Brian E

Concocted a variation of the Rosemary Five last night with a mix of Death’s Door Vodka and fresh pear cider versus the pear eau de vie. Also rimmed the glass with rosemary infused sea salt- freshly crushed prior to rimming. Dropped back some of the lime and upped the rosemary simple syrup (because it was so tasty) and had a drink that was amazingly good.

Posted on 01.07.08 at 8:47AM

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