Satan's Whiskers is sure one hell of a name for a drink. (Pun most definitely intended.) It's yet another in the long line of drinks with lurid names to get a drinker's attention. These days, the name Satan's Whiskers almost seems quaint instead of titillating. Still, the drink is a darn fine one.
When you look at the recipe, it's pretty easy to tell that it's a descendant of that great grand-dad of drinks, the Martini: There's gin, vermouth, and bitters. Specifically, it comes from a Perfect Martini, an almost forgotten variation that uses both dry and sweet vermouth instead of just the dry vermouth we're used to seeing these days.
The Satan's Whiskers is in a group of cocktails that turned up the orange notes of the drop of orange bitters that goes into a right and proper Martini. If you add a squeeze of orange juice to a perfect Martini, you get a Bronx cocktail. Add some Angostura bitters to that, and you have an Income Tax cocktail. Finally, add some Grand Marnier or orange curaçao to an Income Tax and use orange bitters instead of Angostura, and you get Satan's Whiskers. Whew.
See also: How to Make an Income Tax Cocktail
Back in the 1930s when you could order a Satan's Whiskers and the bartender would know what the hell you're talking about, there were two variations. If you ordered Satan's Whiskers straight, that meant you wanted it made with Grand Marnier. If you ordered Satan's Whiskers curled, that meant you wanted it made with regular orange curaçao.
The thing is, many years ago, Grand Marnier was originally known as Curaçao Marnier. That's right, Grand Marnier is an orange curaçao liqueur. Instead of splitting hairs over which liqueur to use, let's just say to use the orange curaçao you have available, which I hope is Grand Marnier.
The 1930s recipes I've seen call for equal parts of everything, along with a very hefty dose of bitters. This makes a dandy drink, but I feel like the gin gets lost under the layers of orange. The solution is simple and fun: Just add more gin, and cut back on the bitters.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Satan's Whiskers 1 ounce London Dry gin 1/2 ounce dry vermouth 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier (or orange curaçao) 1/2 ounce orange juice 1 dash orange bitters
Shake well with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.