Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq was painted in 1642 by Rembrandt van Rijn. It is a painting that is very typical of the Dutch artist for that time period, with pronounced dark and light areas, an attempt at some motion for the large group, and flipping back and forth between incredible detail and vague implication of forms. It is considered by critics as one of the best examples of painting from The Dutch Golden Age, before patrons wanted bright colors and livelier paintings. This was also the age where Rembrandt was at the height of his popularity. It is immense, coming in at 12' high and 14' wide. Of course, a portrait containing that many people would have to be fairly large. It is currently hanging in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and better known to the world as The Night Watch.
The dark hued Night Watch in the Death and Co. cocktail book was created by Jessica Gonzalez in 2011. Death and Co. is part of the exploding New York cocktail scene that has been leading the global craft cocktail and hospitality boom for decades. During the dark 70's and 80's, bartending was something you did between real jobs. Something that would never be considered a "real" career. It was not until bars in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles started to bring back the lost art of hospitality that it could be considered a career. They created experiences for people, not just something to drink. In Rembrandt's painting, the group pictured had become a social club, more interested in sport than manning the battlements. They probably would have enjoyed a cocktail or two at a fine establishment like Death and Co. After all, New York was still called New Amsterdam in 1642.
Night Watch (by Jessica Gonzalez at Death and Co.)
1.5 oz./ 45 mL Ransom gin
.5 oz./ 15 mL black strap rum
.75 oz./ 22 mL Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 tsp./ 5 mL simple syrup
1 ds. Angostura bitters
Pour all of the ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice, then stir until chilled. Strain into the coupe and serve.
So good. So. Damn. Good. The difficult ingredient to find for this one will be the sherry. I used a different pedro ximenez to maintain the sweetness of the Lustau. The cocktail has some weight to it, with the maltiness of the Old Tom, the richness of the sherry, and the depth of the black strap rum. Certainly a cocktail to relax with after dinner, and its dark color could make it a good cocktail to have at your upcoming Halloween party.