Before launching Dekō, we had a lot of back-and-forth trying to figure out which cocktails would serve as the three pillars of our new adventure. As fans (okay, HUGE fans) of the golden age of drinking, we knew we wanted to pay homage to some of the classics, the drinks you can order at any restaurant or bar in the world and receive exactly what you want. After all, that’s how we view drinking at home, which is where you’re most likely to enjoy our delicious cocktails - comfort, elegance, and tradition. For those reasons, and simply because we love them and know you will, too, we pinned our hopes and dreams to our takes on the Gimlet and the Bee’s Knees.
Of course, we’re also young (at heart), so we couldn’t ignore all the phenomenal cocktails that have been concocted by the superstar mixologists of the modern day. Cocktails have become an artform, whereas they used to be more of a necessity - a way to make something taste better, or a vehicle for something medicinal. That led us to a delicious cocktail that shares our New York lineage, the Gold Rush.
Now that you know their names, let’s take a closer look at our starting lineup.
The most weathered of the bunch is the Gimlet. Originally a mixture of gin and lime juice (the measurements are a bit murky, but the ratio was usually around two parts gin to one part lime), this cocktail was born on British navy ships. In the latter half of the 1800s, naval sailors were staring down a frightful and downright nasty enemy - scurvy! Around 1868, in an effort to help sailors combat scurvy by building up their Vitamin C intake, the navy provided all ships with barrels of lime juice. In a turn of good fortune, a Scottish gentlemen by the name of Lauchlan Rose had just invented the world’s first citrus concentrate in 1867, so his Rose’s Lime Juice became the navy’s official version of Flintstones Chewables.
Naval officers would mix their lime juice with gin to make it more palatable. Wait, to make the gin more palatable, or to make the lime juice more palatable? Good question. That depends on the officer. Sailors, on the other hand, were mostly limited to rum, so they mixed that with their Rose’s and called it Grog - not quite as classy as “Gimlet”.
The origin of the name could be from one of two sources. First, all ships were equipped with a gimlet, a corkscrew-type tool that was used to tap barrels of alcohol. Second, there was a naval surgeon named Sir Thomas Gimlette, who served from 1879 to 1913 and would have certainly prescribed the famous mixture to his patients. Either way, the drink caught on and became a true classic in 1953, when Raymond Chandler’s novel The Long Goodbye proclaimed that a Gimlet ”beats martinis hollow”. We agree.
Our middle child is the delectable Bee’s Knees, a cocktail that truly deserves its superlative moniker. The Bee’s Knees was invented during the Prohibition era, when bathtub gin (a far cry from the good stuff) was all Americans could get their hands on. Bartenders at underground speakeasies would mask the tastes of their spirits by mixing in sweeteners - honey - and fruit juices - lemon. There you have it, gin, honey, and lemon - perfection.
Although the Bee’s Knees was a massive hit in America, its origins trace to Paris, France, where two noteworthy individuals are each credited as the cocktail’s possible inventor. A 1929 article from a Brooklyn newspaper attributed the drink to a socialite nicknamed The Unsinkable Molly Brown, who had survived the Titanic and later became immortalized in a Broadway musical and Hollywood film. An alternate theory connects the cocktail with Frank Meier, the head bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris in the 1930s who, supposedly, was a member of the French Resistance and collected intelligence from the Nazi officers who frequented his establishment. Either way, the Bee’s Knees has a storied past and is primed for an even more exciting future.
Finally, the youngest of our brood is the beautiful Gold Rush, a golden combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup. As a certified Zoomer (member of Generation Z), this cocktail’s origins are pretty easy to track. When restaurant Milk & Honey opened in New York City’s Lower East Side in 2000, investor T.J. Siegal helped out as a bartender. One night, in 2001, he tested out a twist on the Whiskey Sour by subbing in a honey syrup he happened to have behind the bar. The Gold Rush took off like a rocket and gave Siegal a place in cocktail history. We’re sure our version will quickly make it into your hall of fame, as well.
Cheers to our three pioneers!