Charles H. Baker Jr. was born in 1895 and died in 1987, witnessing the birth of the automobile, the airplane, and the personal computer. The second one would prove to be most significant to him, as he used it to travel the world; all the while sampling regional cuisines, writing for publications like Esquire, and—most importantly—trying the cocktails of local haunts and even mixing up a few of his own. Charles was an excellent writer: one who could joyously twist an undoubtedly stressful travel schedule into romantic tales that tingle the brain wrinkles. On the same page as the recipe for his excellent Jimmie Roosevelt, he writes about listening to peacock screams while “the sun set through sherry-brown dust clouds that brood over Central India.” Charles prints the Jimmie Roosevelt in the 1939 copy of his now famous Gentlemans Companion. It is listed as Champagne Cocktail No. II, along with numbers one through four. Number two is the only one Charles created himself, though he almost always writes with a royal “we”, so it is hard to tell exactly who was involved. In the recipe, he claims the name was given after Colonel Jimmie Roosevelt of the Civil Aeronautics Division, who Charles once hosted at his home.
This drink employs sparkling wine over cracked ice, but does not use lemon, which puts it in a rarified category along with excellent drinks like the Champagne Cocktail and Seelbach. Unlike those drinks, it goes easy on the bitters, instead using the heavenly aroma of Green Chartreuse to make a strong impression, before transitioning into fruity wine and Cognac. A good sparkling wine makes a difference here; even Charles broke out some bottles from “Nephew in Law” Paul Garrett when making the drink for Jimmie. The book details an elaborate process for making this drink, which was common for the time but really does nothing for the flavor or appearance. The only part we kept was the Chartreuse float, which affects the flavor, but doesn’t change the appearance as much as one might hope. Because it isn’t sour, the drink is more nocturnal in nature and will make an excellent celebratory drink. Make this in anticipation of something great: especially the new year. Perhaps you might find yourself on a rooftop in Central India, ringing it all in.