Ford Cocktail

Ratios make a difference. Often, two cocktails have the same exact ingredients. The difference in taste and aroma comes from the ratios. Such is the case with the Ford Cocktail as it is very similar to the Caprice Cocktail.

1 oz gin

1 oz dry vermouth

3 dashes Benedictine

3 dashes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters


Stir with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with an orange twist.


Benjamin D. 12 Jan 2012
12:07 pm

Okay, so you gave us the ford, the poet’s dream and the caprice. Can I ask Robert, which is your favorite? Which one do you feel captures the right balance of ingredients?

blair frodelius 14 Jan 2012
11:46 am


Speaking of dashes, are there any dasher bottles you recommend that will release the same quantity each time?  There is a vast difference between the amount of liquid that comes out of Angostura, Bitter Truth and Fee Brothers bottles, for instance. 

I tend to use an eyedropper bottle when a recipe calls for dashes of a non-bitters product like Benedictine or Creme de Noyeaux.  Generally about 5 drops seems to be about right.



TheBalch 14 Jan 2012
8:28 pm

Hi Mr. Hess!

I’m a big fan of the show. I just started mixing drinks at home a month ago, and your precise recipes have been a huge help. I don’t want to bombard you with questions, but I’m curious about a couple of things that I hoped you could weigh in on:

I certainly enjoy contemporary drinks, and I really love some of the early 20th century recipes you’ve shared, but I have an almost overwhelming desire to go right back to Thomas’ How To Mix Drinks. The problem is that I don’t know what to make of some of the terminology he uses, which I guess is to be expected given the work’s age. I’ll just cut to the chase and get the most confusing bits out of the way.

First of all, he uses measurements that I don’t really understand. For instance, he often measures out “gum syrup” (simple syrup?) in dashes. His Gin Cocktail calls for

3 or 4 dashes of gum syrup
2 dashes of Boker’s bitters
1 wine-glass of Holland gin
1 or 2 dashes Curacoa

Does he actually mean three or four dashes, like the kind we would get out of a bottle with a dasher top on it?

What are Boker’s bitters? Is it a variety of aromatic bitters that’s out of production?

What exactly is a “wine-glass,” in terms of ounces? What kind of wine glass was he using?

By “Curacoa,” does he mean curaƧao? If so, would he be using orange or blue?

Also, when he calls for “lumps” of ice, what is he talking about?

I know this is a lot to ask. I don’t mean to spam you with silly queries.

blair frodelius 15 Jan 2012
5:12 am

The Balch,

I’m sure Robert will respond to your questions, but I highly recommend David Wondrich’s book, “Imbibe!”.  He basically transcribes Jerry Thomas for a 21st century bartender.  Great reading as well as full of information you won’t find anywhere else.



Robert Hess 15 Jan 2012
8:12 pm

I will definately second Blair’s recommendation of “Imbibe!” as well as his followup book “Punch!”.

Dashes… these can sometime be as problematic as the nefarious “splash” as a measure which you’ll sometimes encounter. When it is a cocktail bitters being discussed, it would have almost certainly been dispensed via a dasher top, but even there, the problem is that no two seem to measure the same, and you’ll even notice a difference in measure often between a full bottle, and a nearly empty one. This is one of the places where a bartenders instict kicks in and aids them in getting an amount which is “appropriate”. And by appropriate, I don’t necessarily mean the same amount each time… it’s sort of like a recipe which lists “salt and pepper to taste”.

Boker’s bitters is unfortunately a defunct bitters… however there are a few folks attempting to craft it again.. here is one:

A “wine-glass” can be very confusing if you mistake it for truely a wine glass! It is fairly well accepted that it is intended to be about 2 ounces, It is believed this came from a smaller wine glass which they used to serve port and sherry in.

Curacoa is definately intended to be curacao… which would have typically been clear or sometimes orange, anytime blue (or the I believe now defunct red), they would have definately specified that specifically.

As for lumps of ice. Back in those days, ice “cubes” didn’t exist. Ice was delivered in large blocks, which were the result of cutting them out of ice which were harvested from frozen lakes. It was a very big business, with ice from America being transported all around the world to countries which were too warm for their lakes to freeze over. So a lump of ice would have been ice that had been chipped off of the large block to a size that it would be appropriate for the intended use.

Hope that helps!

Robert Hess 15 Jan 2012
8:16 pm

And Blair… the bitters bottles I recommend for folks who really want a consistant dash, are the Japanese ones being sold on, they are a tad pricy, but they are beautiful and work wonderfully.


TheBalch 15 Jan 2012
8:35 pm

Thanks so much! I downloaded an ebook version of Wondrich’s book, and so far it’s wonderful. His interpretations of antiquated measures and approximations. The one thing that he doesn’t do is provide more precise measurements for the citrus juices; 1/2 a lemon remains 1/2 a lemon, with no guidance or qualifications. Mr. Hess, is there a rule of thumb you use when recreating recipes like this? Your juice measurements are very consistent and clear-cut. Also, I use simple syrup rather than granulated or powdered sugar, per your instructions, but there’s one thing I’m still not clear on: when a Thomas recipe calls for, say, a tablespoon of water, would you recommend actually adding water? Or does the syrup’s 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of sugar to water account for that as well?

Thanks a ton for getting back to me so soon. I live in the Cincinnati area, and I don’t know if there are any lounges or bars that are committed to mixing with precision and an eye for quality.

Robert Hess 15 Jan 2012
8:59 pm

A pet peeve amongst many of us is recipes that call for “juice of half a lemon”. Not only could there be some confusion between the size/variety of lemons/limes/etc used back in those days and now, but I regularly see citrus vary from shopping trip to shopping trip.

“on average” I’d say a lemon produces 1.5 ounces and a lime produces 1. So when I find a recipe which calls for the juice of half a lemon, I’ll start with that, and then adjust as necessary to make it taste proper to my palate. I figure if they wrote the recipe with such an inaccurate measure to begin with, then they probably weren’t terribly consistant themselves, so they shouldn’t mind if I “adjust” it.

As for simple syrup. if the recipe calls for sugar and a teaspoon of water (as many old Old Fashioned recipes do), I’d use just simple syrup and skip the water.

For finding a good bar in the Cincinnati area, I might recommend asking over at, this is a discussion forum site I run and in addition to the general discussions, I’m also trying to gather listings of the “must check out” bars in all parts of the country.

So far, nobody has added any Cincinnati bars, but I’m sure there must be something?

And it looks like somebody else has asked there already, and nobody responded… Hmmm, maybe you should reask the question in the same thread?



Ginty 16 Jan 2012
3:32 pm

Hey! Hahaha! Guilty as charged. I had to laugh when I heard the mention to my old post. Thanks for covering this drink, Robert. My roommate loves it, although I STILL prefer the Vancouver!

Blair, I find using a pour spout that has a speed hole (when covering said hole with your thumb) makes for a pretty good dasher top. I use that when dashing absinthe.

Sam Halhuli 17 Jan 2012
8:20 am

Little surprised you didn’t go for the Old Tom gin. It makes for an amazing Ford.

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