• December 22, 2017

Cocktail of the Week: Josephine Baker

Alexis Jesup

Yvonne’s wasn’t the first cocktail joint to shake a Josephine Baker. That distinction belongs to Havana’s legendary El Floridita bar, which first poured the frothy egg flip in the 1930s at the height of Ms. Baker’s showbiz career.

But this is no mere recreation: Bar manager Nicole Lebedevitch has given this warming, holiday-worthy cocktail a modern update. Where the original was made with equal parts cognac and port wine and topped with ground cinnamon, Lebedevitch has tilted the scales in favor of a 90-proof cognac, infused the port with hibiscus, and added cinnamon syrup to the mix.

“The reason that we gave it this new spin is the history of Josephine Baker herself,” Lebedevitch says. “You’ve got this extremely strong, yet feminine cocktail, which is reminiscent of the person.”

The drink is rich and frothy, but also contains a dark, fruity sweetness from the hibiscus and apricot liqueur. This fruity component helps it stand out in the world of egg flips, which often contain cream. While the Josephine Baker contains no dairy, its sugars render it round and satisfying on the palate.

“It naturally has a lighter feel, because the sugar takes on the mouthfeel you would get from cream,” says Lebedevitch.

And considering that we’re about to hit peak eggnog season, that’s welcome news.

Josephine Baker
2 ounces Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac
¾ ounce hibiscus-infused ruby port*
½ ounce Marie Brizard Apry
¼ ounce cinnamon demerara syrup**
1 whole egg

Combine all ingredients into a shaker without ice. Shake to integrate, then add ice and shake again until chilled. Double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with shaved nutmeg. Serve.

*Hibiscus-infused port (yields about 4 cups)
4 cups ruby port
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons loose-leaf (or three tea bags) black hibiscus tea

Add port to a saucepan and bring to simmer, then remove from heat. Add tea and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Add sugar and stir until dissolved, then strain into a sealed container. Keeps for two weeks, refrigerated.

**Cinnamon demerara syrup (yields about 2 cups)
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
1 cup demerara sugar

Break cinnamon stick and add to a saucepan over low heat. Toast until aromatic, then add water and sugar. Continue to heat until mixture reaches a simmer, then remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes, stirring to combine. Strain into a sealed container. Keeps for two weeks, refrigerated.

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