Sometimes a drink hits just right. These posts will be brief. I think. That's the plan at least. The Hoskins Cocktail is the creation of Chuck Taggart who posted it on the drink portion of his blog The Gumbo Pages. Plymouth gin is specified and understandably so. Plymouth is softer and less bombastic than more juniper forward gins like Tanqueray and Beefeater. It's delicious and has it's own gin character and is often able to provide a foundation upon which the other flavors can find room to co-exist. In this case the Plymouth is backed up by a healthy amount of Amer Picon (substitutes addressed below), some maraschino liqueur, Cointreau and orange bitters. That's a lot of orange stuff going on in there. It works though. The Picon and Cointreau combine nicely. Picon has many of the herbal/bitter qualities you'd expect from an amaro but with a stronger orange presence than is found in most amari. The Cointreau, by contrast, has even more orange flavor and while it's slightly bitter in it's own way it's also sweeter. Maraschino adds a little bit of its unique cherry flavor and ties into the Cointreau nicely. The end result is a silky smooth drink with layers of orange and added depth from the Picon. It's sweet but has an edge and a nice bitter undertone.
The Hoskins Cocktail - Chuck Taggart
2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Torani Amer (or sub Amer Picon)
1/2 oz Maraschino
1/4 oz Cointreau
1 dash Orange Bitters
Garnish - Flamed Orange Peel
Stir with ice, Strain, Up.
To flame the orange peel cut a disc or oval (I just use a vegetable peeler and get a strip of peel) from an orange. Use a lighter or match and squeeze the peel expressing the oils through the flame and onto the drink. Flaming orange peels is fun and there's no denying the visual impact. However, I'm not always sure I can taste a difference. I often just express the oil without the pyrotechnics and call it good.
For the Amer Picon the recipe here by Jamie Boudreau is tough to beat. It's frequently used as a substitute for the hard to get French product that it's approximating. Torani Amer is available in the US but not widely so. Amaro CioCiaro is also a popular substitute.
Eastern Standard, in Boston, has a drink called the Taggart which is a Picon-free riff on the Hoskins. It contains gin, Cynar, maraschino, Clement Creole Shrub, and Mirto. I don't have Mirto though so I haven't tried it.