Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


The Monkey Gland cocktail.

The Monkey Gland (pictured above) is that rarest of rara avis - a cocktail named after a somewhat revolting surgical procedure, an early attempt at hormone replacement therapy.

Huh? Wuddat?

Well, back in the 1920’s, a physician, one Sergei Voronoff, came up with the brilliant idea of enleadening his male patients’ pencils by grafting tissue from monkey testicles into said patients’ nutsacks.  (The procedure was touted as a means of general rejuvenation, but when men of those pre-Viagra days talked about wanting to feel younger, it was mostly for the purpose of achieving Massive Bonerage.)  And thus it was that the good Doctor Voronoff, already a wealthy man, began collecting even greater sackfuls of cha-ching... to the point where he was even able to operate his own monkey farm for the express purpose of providing tissue for his monkey-gland transplants!  Monkey glands became a fixture of the popular culture of the time, inspiring comic routines, songs (e.g., Irving Berlin’s “Monkey-Doodle-Doo”)... and even a cocktail.  This one!

You’re putting what where?  WTF, dude!??!
After the Roaring Twenties ceased to roar, the procedure fell out of favor to the point where Voronoff became an object of ridicule.  Whether this was due to the Depression-driven diminution in the number of people with more money than brains, or to the slow but eventual public realization that monkey-gland transplantation didn’t accomplish its, ahhh, intended results, nobody can say... but when Voronoff finally died in 1951, the few obituaries that were printed were written as though Doctor V had always been ridiculed for his work.  But that, Esteemed Readers, is mere revisionism, perhaps society’s way of dealing with the shame of having been Taken In.

Monkey-gland transplants (yecch!) may not have survived, but the eponymous (and, alas, somewhat obscure) cocktail does.  And while we may afford ourselves a snide chuckle at Voronoff’s legacy, the legacy of Harry MacElhone (of Harry’s New York Bar, Paris) is much more likely to enleaden your pencil.

The Monkey Gland

1½ oz gin
1½ oz freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp absinthe
1 tsp pomegranate grenadine

Combine in a shaker with ice.  Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass.

I use the term “pomegranate grenadine” to indicate a grenadine made with real pomegranate juice, not the bullshit high fructose corn syrup with artificial flavoring and food coloring that comes in the Rose’s bottle.  (A fine recipe for real grenadine is available here.)

It’s going to be fun making these when blood orange season comes along - the color will be dramatic and the flavor sweet and citric.  Note that there is no specified garnish... but if you can score a monkey testicle, just spear it with a toothpick and drop it in for that extra je ne sais quoi.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Without looking it up explicitly, I recall reading in Paul Johnson's book "Modern Times" that Hitler (may his name be blotted out) received glandular injections from his physician. I wonder if the master of the master race received monkey testicle juice.