If you do not know who he is, click on the link above. If you do not know who he is and you are in the bar industry, clicking the link above is a must. Even if you bartend in the most isolated of bars, you have felt the effects of King Cocktail. Dale DeGroff was directed to a copy of "The Bon-Vivant's Companion" in the 1980's by one of his managers who wanted a different approach in his bar. This introduction began a chain of events that has transformed the industry, from how bartenders approach cocktails to the liquors that are available in bars. All those flavored vodkas, whiskies, and other spirits? The surge in aperitifs and digestifs? That line of bitters on your bar? All of those are results of the avalanche Mr. DeGroff started. All the people I have been reading about, all the bar programs I have been looking over, Tales of the Cocktail, Cocktail weeks in most american cities, all of these come from a movement that Dale was on the leading edge of. Sure, there were others, like Brian van Flandern, Gary Regan, David Wondrich, and others that helped build this empire. But Dale was the one that dug his shovel in first. Am I overemphasizing his role in this modern Golden Age of Cocktails? Maybe. But through my research of modern cocktails, his named popped up the most as an inspiration and mentor.
The Fitzgerald was listed by Mr. DeGroff as one of the ten cocktails that made his career. The Rainbow Room prided itself on making cocktails to order. One of his patrons, a gin drinker, requested "something that was not gin and tonic". Dale was in the rush at the time and did not have long to ponder. He started making a gin sour, then added a few dashes of Angostura bitters to the mix. Sour cocktails were common in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but bitters were not. The addition of the bitters changed the drink just enough that it was given the name Gin Thing. Someone with more of a flair for naming cocktails changed it to The Fitzgerald, since The Rainbow Room had a Hemingway on the menu already.
The Fitzgerald (by Dale DeGroff in The Essential Cocktail)
1.5 oz./ 45 mL gin
1 oz./ 30 mL simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
.75 oz./ 22 mL fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 ds. Angostura bitters
Garnish: Lemon Wedge
Pour the ingredients into a mixing tin. Add ice, then shake well for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain the cocktail out over fresh ice into the rocks glass. Garnish with the lemon wedge and serve.
I love a good sour, and the addition of the bitters, while it may not seem like much, makes a big difference. Bitters really add some depth to the glass by taming some of the sweetness and letting the gin emerge a little more. St. Augustine gin is a little on the mild side, making me think a more assertive gin would really show up well in this cocktail. This cocktail reminds me a little of the Gin gin Mule from the standpoint of it being a perfect drink for someone who claims they don't like gin. It is really refreshing, and a fitting way to end the exploration of the modern cocktail.