To the good listener, half a word is enough – Danish proverb

I’ll raise a glass of Scandinavian spirit to toast another elegant box – something with aquavit. It affords a perfect opportunity to discuss another great classic cocktail from one of the original troubadours of the cocktail renaissance, Robert Hess. Founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail and DrinkBoy, Hess was a lay superfan in the Nineties who befriended and educated the bartenders of the day. He became a personality in his own right and is credited with a few modern classic cocktails of his own design.

Hess says he invented the “Trident” cocktail while experimenting with some newly released peach bitters. He built a nautical variation on the classic Negroni, substituting the base spirit gin with herbaceous Scandinavian aquavit, the vermouth with nutty sherry, and the Campari with the vegetal Cynar. Each ingredient hails from a seafaring region. He pulled all the flavors together with a few dashes of peach bitters. I was fresh out of peach bitters, so rinsed the glass with peach liqueur, which leant the desired hint of flavor and fragrance nicely. On paper, the drink sounds odd, perhaps even disastrous. But just like another one of his famous classics, the Mahogany, it comes together beautifully. The drink was quite popular in Hess’s hometown of Seattle where it remained on extended rotation at the Zig Zag Café for years. And thanks to its well-balanced nature using lower ABV spirits, you’re less likely to have a “stick in the ear*” after a few. Skål!


The Trident by Robert Hess

1 oz dry sherry 1 oz Cynar 1 oz aquavit 2 dashes peach bitters

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with a lemon twist (or trident) and enjoy while reciting your favorite Danish idiom.

*“stick in the ear” – drunk


For more about the Caged Block Box see:

Boxes and Booze: Shaving the Goat