There are, conservatively, about eighteen thousand available variations on the cocktail known as the Golden Dawn. With bitters, without bitters. With Cointreau, without Cointreau. With calvados, without calvados. You get the idea.
From what I have gathered, it originated sometime during the 1920s, though Chuck Taggart traces its creation to London in the 1930s. I, unfortunately, do not have the sort of offline resources at my disposal that would allow me to do proper research into this, but I can discuss, in detail, the part of this drink that has always drawn me: the name.
Very much like the Tequila Sunrise, this drink mimics the gorgeous sunburst tones that make dawn and dusk such beautiful events and, thusly, is a natural namesake. I, however, always think of that great occult institution The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Founded by members of the Freemasons and Rosicrucians, The Golden Dawn is the forefather of all twentieth century occultism (which has as many variations as the cocktail), laying the foundation for Wicca, Thelema and, thereby, the Church of Satan. Based on a hodge-podge of occult history, The Golden Dawn combined mystical elements of faiths from around the world, reviving practices from the Middle Ages via grimoires and the writings of famous magicians and alchemists like Eliphas Lévi. Like the Masons before them, The Golden Dawn drew the best and brightest minds of the time, counting amongst the membership persons like Gustav Meyrink, Arthur Machen, William Butler Yeats and, of course, Aleister Crowley.
All of which has nothing to do with the drink, except that it’s what I think about whenever I sip one.
¾ oz gin
¾ oz apricot brandy
¾ oz calvados
¾ oz Cointreau
¾ oz fresh orange juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Drop in a stemless cherry and drizzle a bit of grenadine on top.
Though there is often discussion of the sweetness of this variation, I do love the five-part balance. Fresh orange juice is a must on this, otherwise the drink tips toward “diabetic coma.” I also use a very, very spare hand with the grenadine, as you want the effect of it more than the taste. The stemless cherry is completely optional, but it makes for an exceptional presentation.