A 20th Century Is The Train-Inspired Drink You May Have Forgotten About

Though you'd think the 20th Century cocktail was created to recognize a moment in time, the drink was, in fact, made for a train. In the early 1900s, a locomotive carrying passengers between Chicago and New York City was called the 20th Century Limited. It was meant to offer a high-end option for commuters and celebrities — and ultimately inspired a bartender to develop a cocktail recipe in honor of the swanky ride.

At the time, the steam engine was a big deal. The steel cars of the 20th Century Limited were lightweight and enabled the train to clock 123 miles per hour on its path while clientele lounged in luxury sleeping cabins and dining cars outfitted with white linens. Along the journey, these passengers would have surely enjoyed sipping gin out of sleek coupe glasses to ease the hassles of travel, like cocktails with the same name as the train.

Made with Lillet blanc, creme de cacao, and lemon juice, the 20th Century cocktail is a gin-based drink that is a variation of the Corpse Reviver No. 2. But instead of orange liqueur, a chocolate-flavored liqueur is poured into a shaker, then strained into a glass. The drink, like the train, lost popularity over the years, but that doesn't mean the recipe doesn't deserve a revisit.

A cocktail made with luxury in mind

The original creator of the drink used the now-discontinued Kina Lillet to shake up and serve 20th Century cocktails, but today, Cocchi Americano serves as a suitable replacement if you're trying to replicate this drink at home. Somehow, the unexpected combination of lemon and chocolate works in this drink, even if gin and chocolate aren't a commonly reached-for pairing behind a bar. When the roster of ingredients is balanced, however, this shaken recipe offers a drinking experience that may remind you of chocolate-coated orange candies or lemon bars drizzled with melted chocolate. 

Upon your first sampling of a 20th Century cocktail, be warned — the citrus notes hit hard, but it's quickly smoothed out with the rich, warm notes of chocolate, Garnished with a twist of a lemon, the elegantly-served 20th Century cocktail looks aesthetic, whether or not you find yourself aboard a fancy locomotive.