How to make a Flintlocke cocktail

Yesterday I got an email from a reader, Mike McClure, telling me about a cocktail I’d never heard of called The Flintlocke. I asked Mike if I could post his letter (and attached recipe) and he said, “Please do! It would be great to see the Flintlocke make a comeback!” So here it is. The original recipe (as well as Mike’s adaptations) follows.

I really enjoyed your ‘I’ll Take Manhattan’ magazine article from several years back; and have shared it with many of my friends. (as well as the link to your web site: “My Father’s Thanksgiving Manhattan”)

If you ever wonder if your articles connect with your readers; I’d like to share with you the following.

I enjoyed the article for two reasons:

·        You really helped me improve my Manhattans. (i.e.: Orange bitters vs. Angostura; Rye vs. Bourbon; etc.) BTW, Like you, I’m  a big Maker’s Mark fan.  Recently though I’ve been able to find really great Ryes.  My favorite is George Dinkel’s Rye. (Total Wines price ~$22).

·        The second reason is the nostalgic tie to your father.  In our family, we have a similar story. 

For our family, the drink is called the Flintlocke.  Legend has it that back in the 1960′s; a bartender at the Colonial Inn in Concord Massachusetts entered and won a national drink contest sponsored by Laird’s (Maker of Apple Jack and Early Times bourbon).   His drink was the Flintlocke.  It’s similar to a Manhattan: (Bourbon, Apple Jack but also includes Crème de Cacao, lemon juice and Grenadine) Proportions have to be accurate or it will taste like bad cough syrup or worse.  For the next couple of decades, the Inn featured the drink.

In the late sixties, my father, while dining there, spotted a ‘table-tent’ card on the table featuring this drink.  He enjoyed the drink and brought home the card. 

Over the next few years, he perfected the mixing of the drink.  I remember when my parents were having cocktail parties, Dad would make up a batch and share the recipe with their friends. (Think Christopher Walken in the opening scene of “Blast from the Past”) At future get-togethers, the friends would all compare notes with him on their own mastery of the drink.

As my siblings and I reached the drinking age (I’m now 59), we carried on the tradition and have shared this with our friends and extended families.  In the mid-eighties, one friend made a trip back to the Colonial Inn; only to find the drink still being featured…with the same table-tent placard.

Sometime in the ’90s, the restaurant stopped featuring the drink.  In 2011, my wife and I made a trip  back to New England and the Inn.  In making our hotel & dinner reservation, I spoke to Dave the restaurant manager and asked if they still had the drink.  He said ‘Yes.’  I then shared with him this story of my dad and that table-tent card.  Dave asked if I still had that card; and he admitted that none of his current bartenders really knew how to master the drink and the old-time patrons have been complaining.  So I sent him a photocopy of the card as well as my notes/tips on how to make it (see attached).  While we were at the Inn, one of bartenders (John) made a pretty good one. (Of course, not as good as my dad’s.)

Like you, this has become our holiday seasonal drink of choice.  As the family gathers at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we always make up a batch of Flintlockes; and continue to share the recipe.

Our father passed away in December, 2000.  In his final days, the family gathered around his bed.  We had one more Flintlocke with him while eating his favorite Christmas cookies (Old fashion German Sand Tarts).  To this day, we sacrilegiously referred to it as “the body and blood of our Father”; Amen.

So, again, thank you for your article.  Glad to know other folks have similar traditions and memories of their parents.

–Mike McClure

Tags: , ,