• The Gin Professors

The Poet’s Dream

Updated: 7 days ago

Today marks the beginning of National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than with a Poet’s Dream?


The cocktail first appeared in the 1935 Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book as equal parts gin, dry vermouth and Bénédictine. The cocktail quickly evolved, with the recipes published in the Café Royal Cocktail Book (1937) and the Esquire Handbook for Hosts (1949) calling for orange bitters and ingredient ratios typically associated with a classic martini. We’ve included both recipes below, but admit that we have a slight preference for the Café Royal version, which is more gin forward. Both versions of this herbaceous cocktail are equally delicious and sure to inspire flights of fancy.

As for the inspiration behind the cocktail’s name, no one knows for sure. Cocktail historian David Wondrich suggests that the drink may be American in origin based on a review of the primary sources. He muses on various American poets who may inspired the cocktail and ultimately concludes there’s only one plausible candidate: Wallace Stevens (1879-1955). Stevens was a lawyer and Connecticut insurance executive, who could easily have afforded the price of a cocktail at the Waldorf.


But we’re more romantic and want to think, as suggested by the anonymous author of Cocktail Musings, that the cocktail is a manifestation of Shelley’s “The Poet’s Dream” (1875) and its description of a dreaming poet:


On a Poet’s lips I slept

Dreaming like a love-adept

In the sound his breathing kept;

Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses,

But feeds on the aerial kisses

Of shapes that haunt Thought’s wildernesses. He will watch from dawn to gloom

The lake-reflected sun illume

The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom, Nor heed nor see what things they be — But from these create he can Forms more real than living Man, Nurslings of Immortality!


Whether the poem was the inspiration or not, what could be more inspiring to discover the poetry of an artistically crafted cocktail?



The Poet’s Dream (Café Royal Version)

Ingredients 2 oz London Dry gin ¾ oz dry vermouth ¼ oz Bénédictine 2 dashes orange bitters


Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.



The Poet’s Dream (Esquire Handbook Version)

Ingredients 1 oz gin 1 oz dry vermouth ½ oz Bénédictine 2 dashes orange bitters


Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.


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