We found the Sun Valley nestled in a vintage copy of Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts: a somewhat forgotten cocktail book that also features some food, some party games, and (most bizarrely) a guide to understanding your attractiveness level in the presence of women. And while the book—which was published in 1949—is quintessentially mid-century in its approach, the Sun Valley feels plucked from an earlier era. The cocktail is even listed alongside a relic of the Jerry Thomas era: the Tom & Jerry. The drink was probably named after the up-and-coming Idahoan ski resort of the same name, which opened in the mid-30’s and had a reputation as a hangout for notable celebrities of the age.
Like the Tom & Jerry, the Sun Valley is a very American winter drink built on a base of dairy and egg. It’s a perfect aprés-ski warmer with a heavy base that is equal parts comforting and nourishing—perfect after a big day on the slopes. It even looks the part with a thick white body and fluffy top that evokes mountain snow. The cream and egg do a wonderful job of masking the unpleasant kick that typically occurs at the end of boozy hot drinks. On the nose you get a nice warming bouquet of spices, plus a little rum and a little vanilla. On the sip you get a nice thick creaminess followed by spice and a subdued burn from the rum.
The original recipe for this drink was written as a punch for eight, but we’ve translated it into a smaller format more inline with the proportions we typically publish. That said, if you wanted to make this drink as a punch it would be natural to that format. The proportions we used are perfect for two; you could scale it down to a single drink but might need to remove some of the egg yolk. The original recipe calls for Jamaican rum, but the high proof of many navy strength Jamaican rums will give a more intense burn at the finish. Any dark, caramelly rum is going to work well. We used El Dorado 5-year to outstanding results.