Poets Dream – Classic Recipe & History

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Poets Dream

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Course: DrinksCuisine: British






Total time



Learn how to make a Poet’s Dream


  • 1 dashes Orange Bitters

  • 2 dashes Benedictine

  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth

  • 2 oz Dry Gin


  • Technique: Simple Stir
  • Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Add ice to the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 10 – 15 seconds. Try to avoid over-diluting the drink.
  • Strain into a glass.


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What Does The Poet’s Dream Taste Like?

The Poet’s Dream taste like a slightly more herbal dry martini. A little less boozy but more complex with a small amount of benedictine and orange bitters. My suggestion is to serve this as cold as possible, stir maybe a couple of seconds more than usual and go easy on the orange bitters. A dash too much on the bitters becomes the overwhelming flavor. Like the dry martini, this is a hard drink to make. Not because it is complex but because it is so subtle and unforgiving if you don’t get it right. This drink can be excellent if done right, and the flavors are kept in check when measuring and stirring. But it can also be pungent if you get a little heavy-handed on the bitters. It’s easier to start small on this and gauge the taste, adding a little more of the benedictine and bitters as you continue making more.

William Tarling’s Cafe Royal Book And Its Influences.

Cafe Royal is massive. I can’t find exactly how many recipes are actually in this book, and I’m not going to count, but my best guess is around 1200. William Tarling did not create most of the recipes in Cafe Royal; he was the president of the UKBG (United Kingdom Bartenders Guild) and head bartender of the Cafe Royal in London. He instead compiled some of his own bars’ top recipes and the recipes of other UKBG into a single source. In his introduction, he says he combed through more than 4000 recipes to find the best and most original ones from around England. This book is a monster, and sadly ordinary folks like you and me will probably never own it. Sure there are limited reprints from time to time, but there were only 1000 original copies made in its single 1937 edition. The book was created and sold as a fundraising item for the UKBG healthcare benefit and Cafe Royal sports club. Healthcare didn’t become universal till 1948 in the UK. We’re still waiting here in the US.

William Tarling was known for experimenting with new ingredients. He positioned the Cafe Royal Bar as more edgy and experimental in its recipes compared to other more traditional bars like The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel. Cafe Royal was an early pioneer in Tequila, mezcal, and vodka cocktails mixed with exotic fruit juices. Tequila and Vodka cocktails don’t start becoming more common till the 1940s with the Moscow mule and the margarita. It’s easy to argue that the margarita was invented at the Cafe Royal in the early 1930s as their picador cocktail. In the book’s preface, William Tarling argues that there needs to be more originality and variety. Martinis and Manhattans are great but just as one tires of eating the same dinner night after night; it’s monotonous to drink the same drinks at every party. Have some fun and try channeling your inner William and try something you wouldn’t normally drink.

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