Hi, I'm Andie.

I live near the Swiss Alps, in Bern, and I love not only melting cheese, but all kinds of Swiss cooking. 

En Guetä!

Monkey Gland

Monkey Gland

 
 

If you need a stiff one, this drink is for you.

Monkey Gland is a 1920s cocktail whose name refers to the practice of grafting monkey testicles onto human testicles in an attempt at rejuvenation and improved virility (not to mention better memory, longer life, improved vision, and a cure for schizophrenia!).

This kind of surgery was the creation of Dr Serge Voronoff, a Russian-French surgeon who was interested in glands and hormones and how they influenced the ageing process. He had come to France as a young man to study medicine, and later found himself in North Africa observing the effects of castration on eunuchs. 

Early in his career he experimented by injecting himself with ground up guinea pig and dog testicles, but when this did not produce his expected results, he started grafting actual squares of monkey gland onto humans.

People loved it.

His process was extremely popular and made him a very wealthy man. He even had his very own monkey farm to support his surgeries. And he didn't stop at the testicle transplants. He grafted monkey ovaries onto women, and vice versa, trying to inseminate the monkey with human sperm.

Although the placebo effect allowed a form of rejuvenation in some of his patients (or so they believed), it became obvious that his technique could not give his patients the results they desired. He quickly fell out of favour, as did his techniques. Upon his death he was hardly remembered, and eulogized as if he had always been on the fringe, when in reality he had been quite popular and well regarded.

Interestingly, his reputation changed again four decades later, when publications (like the Lancet) suggested looking at monkey glands again. More here.

Atlas Obscura also has this great article about Dr Voronoff.

The cocktail has two Swiss connections—the green fairy herself, Absinthe, originally made in the canton of Neuchâtel, and the fact that Serge Voronoff died in 1951 in Lausanne.


 

5 parts gin

3 parts orange juice

splash absinthe and grenadine


Shake the gin, juice, absinthe, and grenadine with ice.

Strain into a Martini glass.


The Matte Brennerei in Bern makes just two spirits, Absinthe and Gin (the ones you need for this cocktail!), in small batches, by hand. The wormwood for the Absinthe comes partially from Bern and partially from its homeland in the Val-de-Travers and is carefully dried in the distillery before lending its bitter taste to the spirit.

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