The Eulogy


Another cocktail original of Bobby Heugel, the Eulogy is a variation on the Last Word which is truly quite magnificent.

This cocktail stays pretty true to its’ name.  A eulogy is the cognate of ευλογια, which means good words in Greek.  Given oftentimes after a persons death, the eulogy is a speech in praise of another thing or person.  However, sometimes the eulogy is not something that occurs after death, but rather still while the person or object is alive and well.  Cocktails oftentimes get a lot of attention, being considered good or bad, and likewise many bartenders have taken towards looking at the drink and deconstructing it to improve upon the cocktail.  The Eulogy, as a drink, is both a deconstruction of the Last Word but also a sort of twisted homage to what is considered one of the best cocktails.  And even though it is a homage, it doesn’t sit idly by and let the forerunner overshadow itself in terms of flavors: quite often, the critique is more realistic than the actual institution. 

Born of equal parts Batavia Arrack, Strega, Falernum (specifically Velvet) and lime juice, the Eulogy emulates recipe and ratio of the Last Word, but also establishes a similar level of balance and herbal characteristic, with more emphasis on baking spice notes than on the herbal.  Bobby had originally played around with making the drink using yellow Chartreuse, but the cocktail actually comes together better using Strega rather than the Chartreuse, seemingly since Strega has a few characteristics yellow Chartreuse lacks.  Such characteristics include a bitter or coniferous flavor (as well as mint like and refreshing) which blends exceedingly well with the lime flavors of the Falernum and lime juice.

Strega is an Italian word meaning witch.  But it is also a liqueur, one with a long standing history.  According to legend, “when two people drink Strega they are forever united” in some sort of bond created by the magic of the liqueur (Jackson 121).  The drink supposedly was created by beautiful maidens who disguised themselves as witches (Ibid).  Created from over seventy herbs, the yellow liqueur is sweet, used as a digestif, and has mint, saffron, and fennel in it, giving it cooling but also warm notes (Ibid).  It is rather popular in cocktails.

Batavia Arrack is a special  ingredient as well.  Arrack, is an alcoholic spirit that is distilled from fermented fruit, grain, sugarcane or coconut sap, specifically made in South Asia; it usually has a golden color, making it different from the Arak common in the Middle East (Ibid 40).  Ararack, arak or arrak is a word of Arabic origin, which can be used to describe any distilled spirit, but commonly the word in the West refers to raki, an aniseed liquor (Ibid).  Batavia Arrack, or arrak, is made in Java, Indonesia, and is the most famous of the forenamed spirits, made form malted rice and molasses, and is aged for up to ten years:  this makes it rather similar to a rum, with strong potent flavors thanks to molasses but a sort of floral but grain-like note on account of the rice (Ibid).  Only recently has Batavia Arrack (specifically in the form of Batavia Arrack van Oosten) become available in the United States, thanks to the efforts of Eric Seed at Haus Alpenz, which also distributes special spirits such as Smith and Cross, or liqueurs such as Creme de Violette.

A final note: this recipe calls for Velvet Falernum.  While you can use house made falernum, which I honestly prefer, it takes the drink to a stronger more spice oriented level that you wouldn’t get with the lighter flavor of Velvet Falernum.  So be forewarned if you substitute: you may have to adjust or cut back on the ratio in order to get a good balance of flavors.

I will be speaking about Anvil as a bar soon, but suffice to say, I have to recommend it enthusiastically.  If you are in Houston, do check out Anvil: there are very few bars like it in the United States, especially in Texas.  The service and drinks are great, while the staff are some of the brightest and most creative people you can meet in the bartending industry.

The Eulogy:
3/4 ounce Batavia Arrack
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce Strega
3/4 ounce Velvet Falernum
Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.
Jackson, Michael.  1995.  Michael Jackson’s Bar and Cocktail Companion: The Connoisseur’s Handbook.  Originally published 1979.  Philadelphia: Running Press.

Taggart, Chuck.  2010.  “Cocktail of the Day: the Eulogy.”  Looka! Gumbo Pages.  Originally published February 2, 2010. (accessed October 15, 2010).