Charlie Chaplin


The Charlie Chaplin is like the man himself: absurd, but with an easy enough air that one can indulge and find themselves amused.

Charlie Chaplin is considered one of the greatest actors of all time, by quite a few film buffs, and likewise was instrumental toward creating the film studio United Artists, which was created in 1919 by Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks in an attempt to establish a film company and studio that would allow them to control the direction that their work took.  The aim of these men were to create and establish the actor as a seminal part of the enterprise, giving the actor the ability to influence the film beyond more than just their performance.  Chaplin, used his influence in United Artists to continue to produce films that were non-talkies, even as sound started to become an implement during the late 20s and early 30s.  Films that showed Chaplin at his best, or rather at physical antics, even during the period of films featuring vocal accompaniment were classics and shined.

With the inclusion of Sloe gin, the cocktail is just like Charlie himself, exhibiting a characteristic ingredient that provides a sense of British character, even if it is silent and sits as one of three principle ingredients in the drink.  The sloe gin drives the overall cocktail, especially when it is made in equal proportions.  While Sloe gin in the States is pretty much abysmal, and it is still a practice in the UK to make sloe-berry or damson gins for personal consumption, the availability of a quality sloe gin such as Plymouth does a lot to help create quality cocktails.

Of the variations I have found, most recipes call for equal, or almost equivalent, volumes of the three ingredients (Crockett 44; Embury 241).  We know that this drink was a pre-prohibition drink, seeing as how Crockett lists the drink as pre-prohibition, and the rise of Charlie’s fame originates in the mid 1910s. There is a note for the drink in Embury when talking about the Charlie Chaplin, saying that this short drink originally called for three times as much sloe gin as brandy, which is “far too sweet a drink for a cocktail” (Embury 241).  And quite right, the drink benefits from the more balanced proportions, which give it a nice sour, but sweet as well as tart taste.  The sour from the lime differs from that of the tart sloe berries, and so the drink makes out with quite a bit more complexity than one would anticipate from a three ingredient drink; overall however, the drink falls apart as it warms, becoming more cloying.  So keep it as a nice (low alcohol) bracer, and not a nice sipper.

While the drink appears in the Astoria and in Embury, the drink probably has American origins, and as such the apricot brandy is most likely the liqueur.  Do not discount the ability to replace the liqueur with actual apricot eau de vie, which works rather well in this drink, but changes the overall cocktail quite a bit, providing less of the savory-sweetness that comes from a quality apricot brandy.

Charlie Chaplin:

1 ounce sloe gin
1 ounce apricot brandy
1 ounce lime juice

Shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with crushed or cracked ice, straining into a glass.  Optionally garnish with a twist of lime.