Gargoyle Cocktail

The Chrysler Building's birthday

Your cocktail calendar entry for: May
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Today’s Drink of the Day is the Gargoyle cocktail to honor the Chrysler Building in New York.  This iconic, Art Deco building was finished on May 27, 1930, and the skyline has never been the same.  With a towering spire, gleaming metal cladding and around fifty gargoyles perched on its corners, it’s a paragon of Art Deco.

Of course, May 27 is also World Whiskey Day.  The concept of a generous swig of whiskey is good any day, but the opportunity to drink to gargoyles is too good to pass up.  For that purpose we have the Gargoyle cocktail, a drink named after and created at The Gargoyle Club in London.

The Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building, of course, stands at the corner of 42nd Street and Lexington Ave. in Midtown Manhattan.  It’s the tallest brick building in the world with a steel framework and was the world’s tallest building for 11 months until the Empire State Building took over for a while.

The building was constructed by Walter Chrysler, the automotive titan heading the Chrysler Corporation.  It was designed and built for the company to occupy.  But Walter Chrysler was audacious and decided to personally fund the entire cost himself so his children could inherit it.  It appears the scrutiny of related-party transactions at the time was not quite what it is today.

But it’s the architecture that gets the attention.  The building is renowned for and recognized by its crown of terraced arches.  Those are clad in stainless steel and contain triangular windows like the spokes of a wheel.  Ornate, patterned masonry on the sides of the building depicts hubcaps and fenders. Steel sculptures at some corners depict hood ornaments.   In 1976 it was designated as a U.S. National Historical Landmark.  In 2005 The New York Times described it as “the single most important emblem of architectural imagery on the New York skyline.”chrysler building gargoyle

That’s all well and good, but our eyes are focused on the gargoyles.  There are about fifty of them protruding from corners of the building on five floors.  Admittedly, they lack the wild and grotesque allure of their Gothic cathedral counterparts.  After all, an oversized hood ornament or fleur de lys hardly strike fear into one’s heart.  But the God Mercury and eagle gargoyles on the 31st and 61st floors possess an air of sinister allure, enough to send a shiver down the spine.

The Gargoyle Cocktail

It should now be clear enough why the Gargoyle cocktail is Drink of the Day, but this drink did not emerge in New York.  Rather, in 1925 the ever-swank Gargoyle Club was established in Soho, London, by a young aristocrat named David Tennant.  By day it was an ordinary venue for business lunches, but by night it transformed into a sanctuary of revelry.  There was drinking in earnest.  Spies like Guy Burgess, Donald MacLean and Kim Philby were members.  A soap opera and spy novel blended together in real life.

Naturally, the place needed a house cocktail and its head bartender, George White, invented the Gargoyle cocktail.  The original recipe was printed in William James Tarling’s 1937 work Café Royal Cocktail Book, in which so graciously attributes it to one “G. White.”

The Gargoyle cocktail recipe requires passion fruit juice or puree.  Don’t panic, we’ve used this exotic ingredient in other drinks like the Divorce Papers cocktail, the Saturn cocktail and the Luau cocktail.  The recipe as originally written calls for “passion fruit juice (sweetened).”  Don’t be alarmed, you have a choice here.  If you have a passion fruit in your grasp just scoop out the inside, push through a fine strainer, and add a bit of simple syrup.  If the winds of fate have denied you fresh fruit, fear not.  Passion fruit puree is available online or in better-stocked liquor stores.

gargoyle cocktail

Gargoyle Cocktail

An invention of George White, head bartender at The Gargoyle Club in London during the 1930s, the Gargoyle cocktail is a simple three-part drink. It's unusual in using vodka and gin, but the passion fruit juice or puree adds the necessary flavor.
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  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Passion fruit puree
  • 1 Lemon wheel
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  • If you have a passion fruit handy simply scoop out the insides and push through a fine strainer to remove seeds. Add equal volume of simple syrup to create sweetened juice. If you have commercially available passion fruit puree simply use as it comes.
  • Add all ingredients, including lemon wheel, to your trusty shaker.
  • Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into pre-chilled coupe glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon peel twist.
  • Drink.
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