Ground up what? I’ll pass. Thanks

I feel I need to start with an apology this week as I know our cocktail under the spotlight will cause some of you to cross your legs in discomfort.

Monkey Gland.jpg

It’s a delicious and beautiful offering that almost glows. Orange juice (fresh please), gin, absinthe and grenadine. Easy to make, pleasing to the eye.

And sure, maybe calling your son Sue is an effective substitute for hands-on parenting in some quarters, but sometimes a name can break bad.

And I think that’s what’s going on with the Monkey Gland.

This unfortunate handle is inspired by the work of a fascinating Russian-born Frenchman by the name of Serge Voronoff operating in the early decades of the 1900s.

Dr Serge’s hypothesis was that hormones, such as the testosterone produced in the testes, would reverse ageing with a process he called “rejuvenation”.

I can see the Eastern half of Sydney sitting up and taking notice here but I must warn you that this is a little more extreme than injecting a bit of life-threatening Botulism into your face.

First, Serge tested upon himself, injecting ground up dog and guinea pig testicles under his own skin.

Yes, you read that correctly.

He was disappointed that there were no discernible results (other than to induce vomiting I suspect).


A political cartoon of Voronoff performing an appendectomy in Egypt. (Image: Wellcome Images/Wikipedia)

Instead of accepting that you can’t be good at everything and moving onto to a sensible career like accounting or writing horror stories, Serge pressed on, determined to prove that living grafts of organ tissue, rather than the injections, were the answer.

Quite the early adopter of recycling, our man Serge harvested nuts from executed criminals and stitched slices of them into the ball-bags of rich white men.

I think it says more about the perennial desire of wealthy people to use their money to overcome their mortality than it does about the early 20th century justice system that Voronoff ran out of dead men’s nuts to slice before he ran out of willing recipients of such.

The forces of Supply and Demand forced Voronoff to look elsewhere and he started monkey farming for his supplies.

Serge conducted more than five hundred of these procedures and the scientific world was curious and watchful. Supportive. He even branched out into planting a monkey ovary into a woman (and I’m sure Mrs Trump loved her baby very much – boom boom).

But the sceptics finally caught up to Serge and his work was discredited and he died in obscurity in the 1950s.

Sad thing is, by the 1990s, his work was being looked at by the scientific community with a more sympathetic eye and is being credited with shaping some of the thinking that forms the basis of more credible, modern medical practices.

So let’s pause a moment a show some respect to the countless medical researchers who spend their entire careers testing hypotheses just so they can say “Nope, the answer’s not here” in the hope the next white coat can build on that to find the cure. You guys are awesome.

Serge’s story (and fortunately not the practices) inspired Harry MacElhone to name a cocktail after old Voronoff’s life work.

To allow you to unclench your nether regions, we’ll stop focusing on Serge’s work and focus instead on Harry’s extensive body of work.

Scotsman Harry took over the New York Bar in Paris in 1923 and called it Harry’s New York Bar.

Harry claims to have invented the Bloody Mary, the French 75, Boulevardier, Side Car, White Lady and the Blue Lagoon. And he’s got a pretty credible claim on most of them (although, I did give the Bloody Mary to another bartender in THIS POST, I did also say it was based on what he was serving to guests in the Paris at Harry’s Bar).

MacElhone's cocktails.jpg

But his Blue Lagoon is the one MacElhone creation that likely will never get its own review on these pages.

Because it’s blue.

And blue drinks don’t work.



No they don’t.


I like blue, and I liked the most of the delightful offerings of the same hue in Hawaii.

Which 3 things


But that, bottom right, is a Blue Hawaii cocktail photographed at point-blank range. Appetising, right?

No. Blue cocktails – the Blue Hawaii or the Blue Lagoon – seem mired in the 1980s.

And not in the good way. More in the Daryl Somers way.

Where it might work nicely is with an in-home screening of the totally excellent 1980 movie of the same name. The movie for which the beautiful Brooke Shields quite deservedly won a Razzie for Worst Actress.


Back in the days of VCR, I once spent a solid hour with my friend trying to get the picture to pause at just the moment when you can see Christopher Atkins’ simeon-free wang as he slid down the waterslide.

That’s University for you. As well as being a place of learning, it is also a place of far too many free hours in the hands of people just learning how to come to grips with being allowed to drink legally. It is also the time when you think blue drinks are a great idea and often have a blue tongue to show for your night out.

Treat the Blue Lagoon cocktail and movie with the same respect, a potentially enjoyable diversion, but both pretty much a waste of time.

By contrast, the the Monkey Gland deserves so much better.

As a cocktail, it is a superior offering but by virtue of a crappy name, it doesn’t get the love or attention it deserves.

So perhaps we should call it a Voronoff (he’s certainly more deserving of a cocktail named after him than that dullard Gibson)

Whatever you call it, this is a tasty cocktail, worthy of your attention. So uncross your legs, get out your orange juicer and get shaking.

50mL of gin (I used Archie Rose)
30mL of orange juice
2 drops of absinthe
2 drops of grenadine
Shake well over ice cubes in a shaker, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
PS If you’re in Australia, you can tune in to Hard Quiz on ABC television at 8pm on Wednesday September 20th to see exactly how much I know about monkeys

1 thought on “Ground up what? I’ll pass. Thanks

  1. Dr Voronoff’s work was obviously the whitecoat forerunner of the Essendon AFL sports scientist, Stephen Dank ( calf blood injections) about 60 years after the rest of the scientific world blew a giant raspberry at Dr. V’s work.

    but another brilliant article from the pen of our SSM wordsmith

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