ABC Pousse Cafe

I’m not interested in just going through Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes one by one, but I figure if I do one or two a week, I will eventually get through it. Other people are doing the same thing (here’s looking at you Julie and Julia! and Underhill Lounge!).

The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 RecipesMy point is talk about which cocktails actually taste good and to try to describe the taste to you, though.

So the second entry in DeGroff’s book is the ABC Pousse Cafe, right after the Abbey Cocktail. You’ve probably heard of the regular Pousse Cafe, which is a 7-layered drink with the different liquors and liqueurs actually layered one on top of the other. You have to know which one goes first and then slowly pour the other one on top by pouring it over a spoon. The drinks layer themselves and look really nice. One problem is that it’s quite tedious and there’s a good chance that the drink will fail by simply mixing the layers.

The other problem is how to drink the sucker! You’ve got a layered drink with nothing but room temperature liquors that may or may not actually taste good together. In Trader Vic’s Bartender’s guide, he describes how he served some joker a Pousse Cafe and couldn’t remember which liquor went next and ended up making a second one. It was a busy night, of course. He finally got it right, shipped it to the guy who held it up for all of his friends to see and then down it in one gulp. Vic was upset, of course, because he had put a lot of effort into that drink.

Well, how do you drink it?

Let’s talk about how you make it, first of all. Layer

1/2 oz amaretto
1/2 oz Irish creme
1/2 oz Cointreau

You’re supposed to use a Pousse Cafe glass, but I don’t have any of those, so I just used a small cocktail glass. It worked perfectly, and it looked nice. The Cointreau mixed a little with the Irish creme, but that was because I used a jigger and didn’t wash and dry it between pouring the Irish creme and the Cointreau. So the density of the ABC Pousse Cafe was a little off.

I wanted to respect the drink and drink it slowly and enjoy each layer, but it tasted like, well, Cointreau. Cointreau is great, sure, but it didn’t make sense to go through this trouble to layer a drink that just tasted like a single liquor. I kept at it and the Cointreau and Irish creme began to mix more. It got pretty tasty, too.

I had no hint of the amaretto, though, so halfway through it, I decided to swirl it to mix the amaretto into the rest. Amaretto is too sweet, and I was afraid that the last third was going to be all amaretto, so I mixed it with what was left of the Cointreau and Irish creme.

Now it tasted right. In fact, the mixtures of these liqueurs was amazing. It was super sweet, sure, but who would have thought that almond, cream, and triple sec would mix so well? They do.

Don’t be afraid of layering your drinks. At least for this version, it’s worth it.

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