It's not been an especially good day, not least because I got soaked going both to and from work - always a treat. It's a filthy night out there, heavy rain accompanied by a wind strong enough to take out an umbrella and make sure you get evenly drenched.
On the upside I'm home now and as soon as I've written this post it's a hot bath then bed, I also replenished stocks of French (dry) vermouth so whilst I write I've got the company of a Dolly O'Dare. There may be more than the usual number of typos and spelling issues.
I notice that Georgette Heyer's 'Footsteps in the Dark' has had the Christmas treatment this year, appearing in a smart new hardback edition. I wonder if the whole series of her detective fiction is going to get rolled out in this way (which would be nice) because there's nothing particularly festive about this book - or at least it's not obviously set at Christmas. On the other hand it's a country house mystery with rumours of a haunting, not at all taxing, and like all Heyer, solid fun.
I think books like this deserve vintage cocktails - something that adds to the atmosphere of the thing without being to much of a performance to make. I saw the Dolly O'Dare when I was looking for apricot brandy ideas, but lacked the correct vermouth at the weekend.
A dry vermouth is a handy thing to have around - not just for drinks, but also for cooking with. Throw a bit at chicken or pork, or in moderation with white fish, it won't let you down, and it all helps use it up because it doesn't keep indefinitely once it's open (aim to get through the bottle within a month, and be sure to keep it in the fridge once open).
The Dolly O'Dare is half and half French vermouth and gin with '6 dashes' of apricot brandy, shaken well over ice, strained into a glass and garnished with a piece of orange peel that you squeeze over it.
I make my cocktails on the small side, so I'd say enough apricot brandy so that you can just taste it, but it doesn't dominate - to get the right balance for you might take some experimentation (It's easier to add than take away!). I also think you can do perfectly well without the orange peel which I think tips the balance to far towards sweet.
Otherwise you have a perfectly respectable, if quite wet, martini with a frivolous dash of fruit. Heyer herself probably wouldn't have cared for the apricot element, but I think some of her characters in here would rather have liked it. I certainly did.