It certainly doesn’t sound very appetising, but the Monkey Gland is a cheeky little drink that was popular during the prohibition era. It was invented by the famed bartender of Harry’s Bar in Paris, and is an unusual mixture of gin flavoured with absinthe and orange.
One of the most interesting things about the Monkey Gland is its name. Dr. Serge Voronoff was a French surgeon who believed that grafting the tissue from monkey testicles onto human subjects would lead to a longer and more vigorous life. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
He began his lucrative practice by transplanting the testicles of executed criminals onto those rich enough to pay for them. Stunningly, there were more takers than testicles, so he moved to using “monkey glands” instead. He actually had to set up his own monkey farm on the Italian Riviera to keep up with the demand. By the 1940s, however, it was clear that the only people benefitting from the treatment were those fooled by a placebo effect, and the whole thing fell swiftly out of fashion.
The Monkey Gland cocktail was introduced at the height of testicle-transplant popularity, and it’s not clear if the name is a tongue and cheek moniker or a genuine tribute to the procedure. Either way, you’ll enjoy a tasty drink if you can just put all of this out of your mind. Really, you don’t want to think too much more about it.
If you don’t have any Absinthe, you can make the drink the way bartenders did in the years when Absinthe was illegal by substituting a dash of Benedictine.
Here’s the recipe for making a Monkey Gland cocktail:
- 45ml Gin
- 45ml Orange Juice
- Splash of Absinthe
- Splash of Grenadine
- Splash of Simple syrup
- Twist of orange to garnish
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
- Add all ingredients
- Shake vigorously
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- Garnish with a twist of orange
- Cocktail shaker
- Chilled cocktail glass