Trey and I got together the other night to preview some cocktails that he chose for a year-end set of cocktail cards I'm making, and I found myself mentioning again my love for the Cabaret Cocktail, and how it was almost solely responsible for the decimation of two bottles of Bénédictine in as many months (I have help, and threw a couple of parties). I had a drink called the La Louisiane at the fantastic Staple & Fancy in Seattle earlier this year, and the bartender was effusively talking about the transformative flavor of Bénédictine. I was a fast convert, and bought a bottle when I got home. I mixed a few other drinks featuring the sweet and herbal liqueur, searching sites like Kindred Cocktails and CocktailDB by ingredient. The favorite that I've mixed over and over has been the Cabaret.
1/2 oz benedictine
1 oz gin (Broker's 94° or other over-proof)
1/2 oz dry vermouth (Dolin)
1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Aged bitters
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir. Drop a single (good) cocktail cherry into the glass.
It's easy and drinkable, and the Bénédictine and bitters have a bit of an alchemical effect, making the gin take on some whiskey-like properties. The vermouth adds a woody, tannin note.
I've actually made this drink with lesser ingredients (80° gin, plain Angostura Bitters, cheaper Vermouth) and it definitely suffers. The higher proof gin gives the drink a more clean kick, and the Dolin vermouth just tastes better. The herbal notes of the Fee Whiskey Barrel Bitters (heavy on the cinnamon) go a long way to carry the drink to a more interesting place. That said, the Cabaret in any state lives among the Manhattan, Martini, and Martinez for me as a staple when I'm looking for something simple and delicious.