Featured Cocktail: The Fourth Regiment
This episode’s featured cocktail is The Fourth Regiment. To make it, you’ll need:
Combine these ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir for about 15 seconds until the drink is well chilled and diluted, and then strain into a coupe glass and garnish with…well, we’ll get to that in a second.
The Fourth Regiment is commonly traced back to the second volume of Charles H. Baker’s 1946 publication, The Gentleman’s Companion, with Volume I – Being an Exotic Cookery Book; Volume II – Being an Exotic Drinking Book. Baker supposedly picked up the recipe for the Fourth Regiment from a British naval officer in Bombay, and with all the allied presence in the Pacific at that time, it’s not entirely surprising that the cocktail contains so many American and European ingredients.
This, unfortunately, is one of those cocktails that suffers from the strange way that bar room chatter and storytelling seems to find a way to jump straight into the internet in its exaggerated, un-cited, and defiantly unverifiable format. Because although most online recipes credit Baker’s book as “popularizing” the drink (if it can be considered popular at all), they also generally lob something out there to the effect of, “oh yeah, and by the way there’s an older version of this cocktail that calls for peychaud’s bitters” or “the recipe was first published in 1889 or 1914.”
As hinted earlier, garnish talk is similarly shifty. Many recipes suggest an expressed lemon twist, while some say that the British naval officer called for a lime twist (which may have simply been a garnish of convenience while in Bombay), and then Thrillist comes in and says, “hey – we really like an olive or a cocktail onion in here to complement the savory notes of the celery bitters.”
And as if things weren’t bad enough, we’ve got to interpret what “one dash” of bitters means, spread across 3 different bottles, probably containing different aperture sizes and viscosities, and we also need to decide if we agree with Sother Teague’s assertion that one “dash” of bitters amounts to two shakes of the bottle.
In the end, the Fourth Regiment is a 50/50 Manhattan, designed in the style of the original cocktail meant only to serve about 3 ounces worth of drink. It was popularized by a book that is known less for its accuracy or culinary flair and more for its fanciful depiction of a Bon Vivant’s luxurious travels abroad. But hopefully you can take the spirit of the drink and use it to design your perfect rendition to try out at home.