“No pressure, no diamonds.” – Thomas Carlyle

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The Diamondback cocktail hearkens back to the era of boozy stirred drinks. Which doesn’t really mean much anymore, since we are living in the era of boozy stirred drinks once again. This one, with a hefty dose of rye whiskey, a bit of apple brandy, and the key ingredient, herbal Chartreuse, to round it all out and give it some balance and character, functions as a surprising variation of the Old Fashioned. Chartreuse, it turns out, adds both herbal bitterness and sweetness to a drink, so here it works as both the sugar and the bitters. The drink was named after the Diamondback lounge, and was the house cocktail there at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Maryland, where it was invented by a bartender now lost to the fog of time. The drink makes its print debut in Ted Saucier’s “Bottoms Up”, a racy cocktail book from 1951 with a great title edited by the former publicist for the Waldorf-Astoria. This cocktail has a wonderful comeback story. Bottom’s Up, out of print for decades, was republished in 2011 with reproductions of the original 12 art plates from well-known artists of the day. And the Lord Baltimore Hotel, a historic landmark in the city built in 1928, was purchased by an international hotel group and renovated to new glory in 2013. If you’re in the mood for something truly classic with a bit of panache, this one’s ready for prime time again.

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Diamondback c. 1951

1 ½ oz rye whiskey

¾ oz apple brandy

¾ oz Chartreuse

Stir with ice and strain into a favorite glass. No garnish necessary unless you’re feeling dangerous. In which case, make a Diamondback snake lime twist. Which, it turns out, is completely misguided. You see, the Diamondback cocktail was not named after the venomous snake, but rather the friendly terrapin, which anyone from Maryland would have known. I am from Texas, by way of New Jersey, and stand corrected. Cheers!

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For more about this gem of a puzzle box see:

Boxes and Booze: Diamonds are Forever