The Rose Cocktail Made With Currant Syrup
The Rose made with currant syrup is very good, but if you live in the United States, it may be difficult to find it. Currants farming has been banned for almost 100 years in the US as currants commonly carry a fungus called white pine blister rust that nearly decimated American white pines in the 1910s. The fungus is benign to currants but kills American white pine, and in 1911, currant farming was federally banned. It is no longer restricted at the federal level, but many states where white pine blister rust is still an issue ban the cultivation of currants. It’s not really a big issue for this cocktail, as all three recipes for the rose are similar enough. The red syrup is more for color than flavor. So you can use whichever red fruit syrup is convenient.
Other Versions Of The Rose
There are three standard versions of the Rose, each with a different syrup to provide a beautiful light red color. One recipe uses raspberry syrup, another uses currant syrup, and the third uses grenadine. The recipe that uses raspberry syrup comes from Frank Meier’s 1936 book “The Artistry of Mixing Drinks.” Meier credits the Rose cocktail to Johnny Mitta of the Chatham Bar in Paris, France. Funny enough, the recipe that uses currant syrup also credits the recipe to Johnny Mitta. That recipe is recorded in Harry McElhone’s first book, “Harry of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing,” from 1923. McElhone and Meier were both very skilled bartenders, so it’s doubtful they got the recipes wrong. Perhaps Mitta changed his recipe over time, and the currant syrup recipe is simply the older version Mitta served. Who knows.
To complicate the matter even more, the 1922 book “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” by Robert Vemeire credits the creation of the Rose to Sidney Knight of the Hotel Cecil in London and his recipe uses grenadine. All three are dry vermouth cocktails but none are alike, and who knows if it was Johnny Mitta or Sidney Knight who invented this cocktail. In David Embury’s 1948 book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” he even provides four different recipes for the rose and credits Mitta for creating the drink, but then he mentions a third person named Albert as a creator too. He then says that the Sidney Knight recipe is American, which Vemeire said 20 years earlier was instead invented in London. If the famous bartenders of that time couldn’t figure it out, then we sure won’t.
- 1923 Harry of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing – Harry MacElhone
- 1936 The Artistry Of Mixed Drinks – Meier
- 1961 The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks – Embury
Unfortunately I don’t have a free link to the 1922 book “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” by Robert Vemeire or the 1948 edition of Embury’s book, but the 1961 edition is the same.