Poets Dream – William Tarling’s 1937 Cafe Royal Recipe

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How Does The Poet’s Dream Taste

The Poet’s Dream taste like a slightly more herbal dry martini. A little less boozy but more complex with small amount of benedictine and orange bitters. My suggestion is to serve this cold as possible, stir maybe a couple seconds more usual and go easy on the orange bitters. A dash too much on the bitters and that becomes the overwhelming flavor. Like the dry martini this is kinda 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 amazing 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

Cafe Royal is absolutely 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 actually create most of the recipes in the Cafe Royal, he was actually 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 say he comb through more than 4000 recipes to find the best and most original ones from around England. This book is a monster and sadly normal 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 it’s single 1937 edition. The book was actually created and sold as a fund raising item for the UKBG healthcare benefit and Cafe Royal sport 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 and positioned the Cafe Royal Bar as being more edgy and experimental in their recipes when compared to other more traditional bars like The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel. Cafe Royal was known for being an early pioneer in Tequila, mezcal, and vodka cocktails mixed with exotic fruit juices. Tequila and Vodka cocktails don’t really start becoming more common till the 1940s with the Moscow mule and the margarita. It’s actually easy to argue that the margarita was actually invented at the Cafe Royal in the early 1930s as their picador cocktail. In the books 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, its 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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Poets Dream – William Tarling’s 1937 Cafe Royal Recipe

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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


  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass. Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 15 – 20 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink.
  • Strain into glass, express an lemon peel over the top,

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