Now, let’s look at those dates: 1916 vs. 1930. That’s roughly four years before Prohibition is enacted vs. roughly 3 years before it is repealed. Ensslin was a New York bartender, whereas Craddock was based in London, which explains why this cocktail just managed to sneak through a very coincidental rift in the historical hedgerow. If you were in New York before prohibition, you could reliably source stuff like vermouth and imported French liqueurs. However, as soon as Prohibition kicked off…not only was bartending in the open forbidden, it was also a lot harder to get your hands on old-world ingredients…even if you were doing it illegally.
So it’s lucky for the Chrysanthemum that the recipe seems to have made its way to British soil in time for Harry Craddock to popularize it in a place where all the ingredients were still very much available. Otherwise, it might be listed among an even more obscure class of drinks that languished in obscurity due to the unfortunate timing of our nation’s poorly-executed ban on alcohol.
Today, you’ll see some bartenders looking to add a bit of brightness to the Chrysanthemum with a squeeze of citrus, but if you’re looking to recreate a more authentic version, simply stir a little longer so that the dilution can cut the sweetness and allow you to experience the rapturous aromas of the vermouth and benedictine dancing sensually with the expressed orange oils. It’s a relatively simple build, but the flavor profile is sensual in a way that you’re not likely to forget.