For over 30 years I have occasionally enjoyed a cocktail of Courvoisier cognac and Grand Marnier mixed straight up in a balloon glass without ice. My friends and I call it a Lord Madsen. There is also a superlative quality Nicaraguan cigar which bears the same name, and doing an ‘LM2’ means enjoying both together. I thought I’d invented the cocktail, which treads the same road as a Brandy and Benedictine (B&B) by cutting back a liqueur with some of the spirit it is derived from. A couple of bars in DC used to feature my cocktail (and maybe still do) in their bartender’s book.
Now I discover that the combination is much older. Bartender Giusepi Cipriani founded Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1931 and gave us many cocktails, including the world-famous Bellini. He is reported to have invented a cocktail of Hennessy cognac and Grand Marnier at Harry’s Bar in 1948. He called it the ‘Beautiful,’ and it is the same thing as a Lord Madsen, since the Courvoisier can have any liqueur cognac substituted for it. It is such an obvious combination that my guess is that hundreds of people might have stumbled upon it independently. People cut back Drambuie with Scotch and call it a ‘Rusty Nail’ in similar style. Oh well. Since Cipriani seems to have been the first to publish it, I guess he gets to name it. But ‘Beautiful’ is not a very good name. It is an adjective, not a noun, and if you ask for ‘a Beautiful cocktail’ you are quite likely to be handed any cocktail the bartender thinks is beautiful. I shall continue to call mine a ‘Lord Madsen.’
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