When you are looking for a simple low-alcohol cocktail with complex flavors there is a specific type of cocktail to fill the void – the “shim”. I purchased The Art of the Shim at least a year ago, and sadly I haven’t gone through many of the recipes until recently. The book defines a shim as “a cocktail containing no more than half an ounce of strong spirits – those of 40% alcohol by volume or higher.” Therefore, shims contain less alcohol than an average glass of wine. The premise of the entire book is “more drink, less drunk”. If we really treat the cocktail experience as a culinary one, there really is no truer statement.
The Diplomat is a shim featured in the book which dates back to 1922. Robert Vermeer’s 1922 recipe in Cocktails: How to Mix Them calls for 1½ ounces of dry vermouth, ¾ ounce of sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes of maraschino liqueur. I chose to feature the slightly modified recipe featured in the book. It’s worth noting that the vermouth you choose will always make a difference, and even more so with a drink where vermouth is the base spirit and a modifier. Of all the times to skimp on vermouth, this is not the time. Dolin is a personal favorite, and for this recipe I decided to add the Cocchi Rosso Vermouth de Torino that was suggested to my home bar. In a shim, a lower quality vermouth will simply not give you the full complexity – “splurge” and purchase a quality vermouth. I can almost guarantee that it will be cheaper than the average bottle cost per spirit on your home bar.
- 1½ ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth
- ½ ounce Cocchi Rosso Vermouth di Torino or something bold like Carpano Antica
- ¼ ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes aromatic bitters
- Combine ingredients and stir in mixing glass with ice.
- Strain into rocks glass containing a large ice cube.
- Garnish with an expressed lemon peel.
4 thoughts on “The Diplomat – A Shim of Highest Regard”
I really enjoy reading your blog. The tips on which vermouth to buy are especially helpful considering the plethora of options. Some day I would like to hear your thoughts on a well stocked home bar (I.e. which to by – Aporal, G Chartreuse, Y Chartreuse, Campari, DOM, etc…. etc….). One that would allow a person to make a wide array of cocktails as they become more experienced at following recipes (similiar to a really good cook who can make substitutions when necessary). I’m still at the follow the recipe step but am improving as I make connections. Finally, I love the “shim” concept. I’m always looking for more flavorful beer with less alcohol. I think it’s way more difficult for a brewer to hit a home run without going above 8 abv. The shim is a great concept as well. Thanks for all your effort.
Thanks so much Jacob! All those seemingly small choices add up. Vermouth choice is almost like making sure you use quality water when making coffee or tea. It really makes a difference when it’s such a large component.
As for home bar tips, I’d love to do that! Some of the items you listed have to acceptable substitute. You can certainly make good/different drinks by using another option though. Check out the article series on The Kitchn. (Yes, no “e”) called 9-bottle bar.
Agreed on the beer and the concepts of shims. No exaggeration at all, I just had this convo with a friend 10 minutes ago. ????
Cheers fellow Okie! Reach out any time.
Thanks for the heads up on the article series from Kitchn. I have been perusing the site since your suggestion and am enjoying it.
Thanks Jacob! It’s people like you that make this all worthwhile! Cheers!