How to Make a Brain-Duster

A funk. A flop. An unending slog of rather dull days. A repeating loop of boredom. Those stretches of time hit, when your attitude about everything could be described as eh. There’s really no avoiding them. But maybe a routine-upender is in order. You know, something that challenges you. Makes you think. Like a really strange, off-kilter cocktail, for instance. We have one in mind.

The Brain-Duster is a potent blend of rye whiskey, absinthe, Italian vermouth, and bitters. It is not at all subtle in flavor, tasting much like a Manhattan with a little something extra coming from the absinthe. And with absinthe creeping back into cocktail culture more and more these days, it’s not a bad idea to have a bottle of the good stuff at your disposal. To dust off the cobwebs in your brain, so to speak.

A Little Background

According to the annals of cocktail history, the Brain-Duster was named as such in 1895 by bartender George J. Kappeler. Now, and likely back then, a brain duster is what you give someone when you smack them upside the head, so you can see how it was a fitting name for this drink. In 1949, Esquire published the recipe in our Handbook for Hosts, warning, “Hold your hat.” The Brain-Duster goes by another name, too: The Waldorf, or so the Waldorf-Astoria bar called its variation when it served it up to clientele in the early 1900s. You don’t see it around much these days by either name, but with authentic absinthe back in the U.S., there’s no time like now for a resurgence.

If You Like This, Try These

At its core, the Brain-Duster is a juiced-up Manhattan, sharing rye whiskey, Italian vermouth, and Angostura bitters in common. And besides going by Brain-Duster and the Waldorf, a variation with Irish whiskey is commonly referred to as a Hearn’s. As far as other whiskey-and-absinthe cocktails, there’s the classic New Orlean’s Sazerac, as well as the Glasgow; the former calls for rye, the latter for scotch.

What You Need

Here’s what you need to do a Brain-Duster justice, beyond what you might be able to dig out of the fridge or cupboard.

Photography and Prop styling by Heidi’s Bridge
Food styling by Sean Dooley

Source : Esquire