100 Years Later, Exploring Titanic’s Wine and Cocktails

Uncovering the Titanic's beverage offerings.

April 14 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and Wine Enthusiast wondered which libations were aboard the ill-fated ship. While her manifest included 1,000 bottles of wine, 850 spirits bottles and 191 liquor cases, little else is documented.

First class passengers certainly enjoyed lavish, multicourse dinners: Menus recovered from the ship indicate that 10 courses were the norm, each dish paired with wine. Corks that survived the sinking later identified Champagne selections from Moët and Heidsieck & Co. On April 11, a parcel of bottles recovered from the wreck will be auctioned off in New York City by Guernsey’s Auctioneers & Brokers.

As for cocktails, a 1911 menu from the Olympic ( Titanic’s sister ship) lists the Manhattan, Tom Collins and John Collins. “Those were the cosmos and appletinis of the time,” says Toby Maloney of Alchemy Consulting.

Other drinks can be tied to a Titanic passenger who perished, John Jacob Astor IV. Around the time Astor merged his Astoria Hotel with his cousin’s Waldorf Hotel in New York City, the Bronx was invented. Other cocktails crafted there include the Rob Roy and the Robert Burns.

“The Robert Burns is traditionally served with a shortbread cookie,” explains Frank Caiafa, mixologist at the Waldorf-Astoria. And that could very well be how the drink, which appears in The Savoy Cocktail Book (Anova Books, 1931), was presented aboard a ship sailing between Southampton, England, and New York City in 1912.

Tom Collins

Courtesy Toby Maloney, Alchemy Consulting, New York City

Splash of soda water
2 ounces gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
Orange/maraschino cherry flag, for garnish

Bottom a shaker with soda water, top with gin, lemon juice and syrup. Shake lightly. Strain into a Collins glass and add orange or cherry flag for garnish.

Robert Burns

Courtesy Frank Caiafa, Peacock Alley in the Waldorf=Astoria, New York City

2 ounces blended Scotch whisky
¾ ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes absinthe
2 dashes bitters
Shortbread cookie, for garnish

Combine whisky, sweet vermouth, absinthe and bitters into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and stir for 50 revolutions. Strain mixture into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the shortbread cookie.

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