Down the Hatch: Mixologist Rick Turner on the Crusta, a Cocktail that Changed the Game
It’s called a Crusta, an oldie but goodie, invented around 1850 in New Orleans by barkeep Joe Santini.
Don’t be embarrassed if this one has escaped you. You should, however, turn a little rosy if you don’t know the role that this little dandy has played in cocktail history.
Drinks such as the Margarita, Sidecar and the beloved Cosmopolitan should pay homage to their forefather, the Crusta. This cocktail was so important to the development of modern cocktails that some professionals have dubbed it “the Missing Link”.
Prior to the mid-19th century and the arrival of the Crusta, a “cocktail” contained only sugar, water, bitters, and some type of spirit. The Crusta changed the rules, adding an acid, a sweet spirit, and a weak spirit to that traditional cocktail formula. Imbibers experienced the oral equivalent of the British invasion, as their taste buds stood up and rejoiced.
1 ½ oz. brandy
½ oz. Cointreau, Orange Curaçao, or Triple Sec
¼ – ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Marachino Liqueur
1-2 dashes of aromatic bitters
This cocktail can be presented in a couple of ways:
First, line the rim of a cocktail glass (a.k.a. martini glass) with ultra fine or bar sugar. Combine all of the ingredients into a Boston Shaker, shake and strain into the prepped glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The second method is to line a sherry glass or a highball glass with the entire spiraled rind of a lemon. Sugar the rim and fill the glass with crushed ice. Combine all of the ingredients into a Boston Shaker, shake and strain into the prepped glass.
Substitute bourbon, gin, or rum for the brandy if you prefer.
Rick Turner is a Certified Specialist in Spirits (Society of Wine Educators) and a Certified Sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers). He writes about cocktails for EscapeHatchDallas. In his spare time, Turner is the general manager of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Dallas.