The Lucien Gaudin Cocktail

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Named after a famous Olympic fencer, the Lucien Gaudin cocktail is a delightful drink reminiscent of a Negroni that is oriented towards orange.


Named after the fencer Lucien Gaudin, this cocktail features gin, Cointreau, Campari, and dry vermouth.  Seeing as how the Negroni contains gin, campari and sweet vermouth, the most notable difference between both of these drinks is the inclusion of sweet vermouth rather than dry vermouth.  While the proportions are different, relying much more upon the gin as the dominant force in the Lucien Gaudin cocktail, the sweetness is about the same, since the addition of Cointreau helps to bring the overall sweetness of the cocktail back to Negroni levels-not too sweet-enough to balance the drink against the bitters form the Campari.  Because of the inclusion of the orange twist, the aroma is still built around oranges and the flavor possesses a better finish of the citrus fruit thanks to the Cointreau.

The recipe for this drink is taken from Ted Haigh’s book: I have been unable to find a copy of the drink in anything other than Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide.  Haigh writes that the drink was a Prohibition cocktail (Haigh 196).   However, it seems unlikely that it would have come out of the United States, since Lucien Gaudin was French.  Yet, since I cannot find any sourcing on the drink, I’m unsure where it might originate.

Lucien Gaudin was a French fencer, competing in épée and foil competitions, at a few Olympic sessions, winning gold for both individual épée and foil in the 1928 Olympic games, and in the 1924 games, winning gold in the team competitions for both styles.  Gaudin was famous for his skill and accuracy; in fencing, the sport relies heavily upon the motion of the fingers in order to produce accurate hits, disengages, parries or other motions.  The movement of the blade with the fingers is the most important part of fencing, rather than using or relying upon the wrist or arm.  Gaudin, who worked as a banker, committed suicide in 1934; it is rumored that he did so because of financial difficulties, but others claim he had received a wound to his thumb and fingers, both which are crucial to fencing.  Either way, the cocktail is a good way to remember this historic figure.

This cocktail works well with any type of gin, drawing out different undertones of flavor depending on the gin used; it is more reminiscent of an Old Pal if you use something like Bols Genever, and more similar to a Negroni if you use Plymouth or a London Dry.  In any format the drink is great, and with the diversity of gin types, you can create a cocktail that suits the palate of the imbiber just by switching out the gin.

Since the drink is very similar to a Negroni, but with dry vermouth instead of sweet, I feel I should point out the major differences attributing to color in the two, as well as the flavor differences.  Both are made from white wine, but the color from sweet vermouth is either added after the fact (as is the case in cheap sweet vermouth with caramel coloring), or due to the inclusion of caramelized sugars (Robinson 732).  Generally, sweet vermouth includes a bit more sugar as well, making it more syrupy and sweet; yet a truly good Italian vermouth is not syrup-like but complex, and appealing.  Good examples of these include the expensive, but excellent, Carpano Antica, and the more bitter oriented Punt e Mes.  With the more expensive vermouth, you are also more likely to get something that is flavored with botanicals and herbs, rather than with a concentrate designed for consistency (Ibid). 

The Lucien Gaudin Cocktail:

1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce French vermouth

Stir in a mixing glass with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

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Haigh, Ted.  2009.  Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie and Beyond.  Beverly, Massachusetts: Quarry Books.

Robinson, Jancis.  2006.   The Oxford Companion to Wine.  Originally published 1994.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.