If, and we’re talking about a pretty speculative ‘if’ here, you’re ever asked who was the most famous fencer in history, you’d be well within your rights to stare blankly at your interrogator based on the sheer ridiculousness of her question. Obviously, you’d say, it depends on which blade was in question: foil, épée, or saber. Obviously. At such point, however, you’d be the fool as the unquestionably greatest fencer in history is Lucien Guadin, master of both the foil and épée. A winner of multiple medals at the three different Olympic games during the 1920s, Gaudin was described at the time for his beautiful “finger play,” the exact nature of which we have prudently declined to investigate further.
Indeed, we’d never heard of M. Gaudin until stumbling across his namesake cocktail in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails, but his (slight?) legacy is preserved in a wonderful aperitif, created to fête his 1928 medals in individual foil and épée. The drink has a crispness that makes it well-suited to the summer season, and we like to further that by adding to ours a few dashes of orange bitters. Another edit, one that opens the drink up to those who still have not acquired the taste for Campari, an ingredient about which we seem to have become quite the proselytizer, would be to use the milder Aperol instead.
Lucien Gaudin Cocktail
1 oz. gin
½ oz. dry vermouth (Noilly-Prat’s fruitiness works well here)
½ oz. Campari (or Aperol)
½ oz. Cointreau
Stir well with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with orange peel
These days, a cry of “Barkeep, a Lucien Gaudin cocktail, post haste!” will present you with a slackened affect of incomprehension even greater than questions about the relative merit of historically-great blademen. His sport hasn’t fared well over time, either.
Once a martial necessity, then an upper-class diversion, fencing used to be the province of gentlemanly duels by the Three Musketeers. (Side note: why did they never use their muskets?) Fencing now intrudes our consciousness only upon its brief mention during the summer Olympic games, such as when three young women from the same Yale team colonized the entire podium in individual saber at the Bejing games. One of these three has gone from Olympic medalist to aspiring lawyer; reason enough to mix a strong cocktail.