Monkey Gland

August 20, 2010 (Day 202) — Monkey Gland

One of the great classics. Yet, one of the most unapproachable cocktails simply because of its vaguely ominous name. I mean seriously? Monkey Gland? It doesn’t exactly scream “DRINK ME!”

Even less so when you consider the somewhat odious nature of its entomology.

According to the 1922 tome Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails book, Harry McElhone is the creator of the strangely named drink. But where does the name come from? Supposedly, it was inspired by the 1920’s experiments of mad scientist Serge Voronoff. Of course, I use the term mad scientist simply because he grafted the testicles of monkeys onto the testicles of men.

From an article on

The first human xenotransplants were made in 1920 in France, by a professor of Russian origin, Serge Voronoff (1866-1951). At the age of 18, he left Russia to study medicine in Paris; he became a naturalized Frenchman in 1895. Dr. Alexis Carrel taught his young friend, an ingenious and skillful surgeon, the technique of transplanting. In 1896, Voronoff left for Egypt, where he stayed until 1910. There, he took an active interest in eunuchs who, castrated when they were children, revealed certain deficiencies. Voronoff was convinced according to his own observations that testicles not only have a genital function, but also that they act on the skeletal, muscular, nervous, and psychological development of the individual. Already in June 1889, physiologist Adolphe Brown-Séquard (1817-1894) injected himself under the skin with an aqueous extract of dog and guinea pig testicles, ground up and mollified–an opotherapy or juice treatment. In line with the eugenicist trend in medicine of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Voronoff intended to “rejuvenate” human organisms with a transplant of glands from chimpanzees and baboons, who were thus elevated to the rank of brotherly species with mankind. “I dare assert,” he wrote, “that the monkey is superior to man by the sturdiness of its body, the quality of its organs, and the absence of those defects, hereditary and acquired, with which the main part of mankind is afflicted.” For him, aging was the result of a slowing down of endocrinal secretions, and particularly sexual hormones.

I mean, come on. We’ve all been to Tijuana. We’ve all taken down a bottle or two of something we were pretty sure wasn’t actually tequila. We know what goes on there. That’s still a little weird. But naming a cocktail after monkey balls grafted onto man balls. That’s normal!

That’s the face of normalcy.

According to the same article:

On the 12th of June, 1920, he performed the first (official) transplant of a monkeygland on a man. The monkeygland would be cut in pieces of about two centimeters long by a half centimeter wide and a few millimeters deep. The surgeon would then introduce two grafts in the scrotum, which he fixed with stitches taken off after eight days. Among forty men operated on during the 1920’s-30’s at a private clinic, the Villa Molière in Auteil, at a nursing home, Ambroise Paré in Neully, and the Rue Montaigne nursing home in Paris, we find listed nine employees, seven doctors, four engineers, four men of letters, three architects, three manufacturers, two attorneys, two university professors, one man of private means, one agronomist, one painter, and one worker. Eight of them were of foreign extraction. Nine were between the ages of 20 and 40; eighteen were between 41 and 60; seventeen were between 61 and 80. Voronoff’s notoriety kept growing. In 1926 he wrote a book, Studies of Aging and Rejuvenation with Transplants, in which he explains and develops his theory, offering what appear to be quite convincing results.

Yeah, that doesn't look sinister at all.

It was with these… ummm.. “ideals” in mind that we have a quite delicious classic cocktail.

Monkey Gland

2 oz gin

1 oz orange juice

1/4 oz grenadine

1 dash absinthe

orange slice for garnish

Swirl the absinthe in a chilled cocktail glass to coat it, then dump any excess. Pour the other ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and shake well.

Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.

The mixed tastes of orange and hint of liquor is one hell of a combination. Very pleasant, very strange, very interesting. Several Websites featuring this drink called the mingling taste a “mystique.” I’d say that’s a pompous, egotistical, and fully accurate description of the mix of flavors. The juniper of the gin (rhyming!), the sweetness of the grenadine and the mingling of the orange juice and absinthe is a perfect mix. Oddly enough, it reminded me of a licorice jelly bean.

But you aren’t hear for cocktails! You’re hear for pictures of the actual Monkey Gland!

Just kidding! Here's a picture of a puppy!


— Mark

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