Despite its strange name, the Monkey Gland is an incredible cocktail. An extraordinary mix of Dry Gin, Absinthe, grenadine, and orange juice. And the color of the drink is magnificent, too: a bright, almost glowing tone, somewhere between orange and pink. It’s one of many drinks invented in Harry MacElhone’s bar in Paris, the famous “Harry’s New York bar”.
The original recipe of the Monkey Gland cocktail would be risky to serve for modern days bar visitors, though. Back then, equal amounts of Gin and orange juice built the base of the drink. However, today’s palates usually are more accustomed to sour drink recipes. So this would most likely not work out. But by adjusting the recipe and balancing the ingredients better, the Monkey Gland becomes an outstanding drink -also for today’s standards.
History of the Monkey Gland cocktail
There’s a debate about who actually created the Monkey Gland cocktail first. Either Frank Meier, former bartender of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, or Harry MacElhone himself in the aforementioned bar located in the same city, whereas most cocktail historians credit the invention to Harry MacElhone. But either way, the drink was born in France.
And it is certain the Monkey Glad got served for the first time during the early 1920s. That is well-documented as there are newspaper articles from 1923 praising the cocktail and its recipe. Later, in 1930 it also appeared in MacElhone’s book “Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails”.
Why it’s called Monkey Gland
Monkey Gland sounds like an odd and confusing name for a drink. And sure thing, it is. But don’t worry, the cocktail ingredients have absolutely nothing to do with the testicles or any other body part of monkeys. No monkeys got hurt in connection with the drink’s development.
And it takes a bit of a history lesson to know why the drink got a name like that. In the 1920s, a French Surgeon named Serge Voronoff claimed that transplanting monkey testicles into the human scrotum increases life expectancy. In experiments with monkeys, he saw “signs of increased vitality”. -That, unfortunately, is something where monkeys probably got hurt.
During the 1920s, Voronoff transplanted monkey testicles as often as a few hundred times. And that was just at the same time when the drink got invented. So the name of the Monkey Gland was a -at least back then- “fun” reference to an unorthodox and certainly questionable medical treatment. And that story was confirmed by Harry MacElhone himself.
Best Gin for Monkey Gland
Choosing a good Gin is the key to making a great Monkey Gland. With so many different types of Gin, it can be hard to select the right one. For this drink, a classic Dry Gin works best. Together with freshly squeezed orange juice and a decent Absinthe, it can create a beautiful cocktail.
- 2 oz Dry Gin
- 0.75 oz Freshly squeezed orange juice
- 0.2 oz Giffard Grenadine syrup
- 4 dashes Absinthe
- Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.2 oz Dry Gin , 0.75 oz Freshly squeezed orange juice, 0.2 oz Giffard Grenadine syrup, 4 dashes Absinthe
- Shake until the drink is well-chilled and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Enjoy!