The Gloom Raiser

This delicate variant on the classic Martini is a cocktail you need to know about.

Photography Dwayne Martineau

There are few cocktails as iconic as the Martini. A quick Google search of “cocktail” returns thousands of images of that iconic stemmed glass with a twist of lemon or an olive. Sure, some of them might feature a few alarmingly vibrant colours, but the point stands: when one hears “cocktail,” it’s the Martini that springs to mind.

But while the classic Martini – gin, vermouth, orange bitters, and a lemon twist – has amassed a wealth of devotees, some evenings call for something a little lighter and more elegant; something born in 1915 at the Royal Automobile Club in London, England.

Robert Vermeire was a well-regarded bartender who served for years behind the bars at the Royal Automobile Club, the Criterion, and finally the Embassy Club. His contributions to cocktail writing are limited to his single manual, Cocktails: How to Mix Them, which he published in 1922. Vermeire’s work is notable in a few respects. Most importantly, it contains one of the first cocktail books to include the Sidecar. The book also differs from many cocktail manuals of the time in its praise for contributing bartenders rather than raising the star of its author. Vermeire is listed on the cover simply as “Robert,” something quite telling in a time of bartenders who were more concerned with their own fame than the recognition of their peers.

Among the pages of Cocktails: How to Mix Them is a wealth of recipes for largely forgotten cocktails, from the Orange Blossom to the San Martin cocktails. Among these forgotten drinks is that most lovely of Martini variations, the Gloom Raiser.

Listed very simply as one of Vermeire’s own creations, the Gloom Raiser could easily slip by unnoticed. It hasn’t ever had the following of the Martini, the Old Fashioned or the Sidecar (all mentioned alongside it). However, it remains a beautiful cocktail – and one that has gone unnoticed for too long.

A delicate, dry variant to the classic Martini, the Gloom Raiser replaces the former’s orange bitters with grenadine and absinthe, providing a light, herbaceous sweetness that balances the roughness of London dry gin. The use of a full ounce of French dry vermouth structures the cocktail and lengthens it to ensure all elements are appreciated. Gin, of course, provides an herbaceous base. A final twist of lemon oil over the surface of the drink provides a wonderful aromatic garnish.

All in all, the Gloom Raiser is meant to be a lighter version of the Martini. That’s hardly a bad thing. It’s a lighter drink to start an evening on an easier note.  It’s a drink to lift the mood and renew the spirit; to focus the mind on the moments to come. Given the state of things today, a renewed spirit and lighter mood might be what many of us are craving.


The Gloom Raiser

 2 oz. dry gin

1 oz. dry vermouth

2 dashes of grenadine

2 dashes of absinthe

Stir all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a twist of lemon (discard peel).

As an addition, here we offer a lighter, more floral take on the Gloom Raiser.

Dusk Blooms

2 oz. Encanto Pisco

1 oz. Dolin Blanc vermouth

1 barspoon Pernod absinthe

1 barspoon grenadine

1 dash lavender bitters

Stir all ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a twist of lemon (discard peel).

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