Red Needle is a drink created by Leonard Cohen in Needles, California, in the of Summer 1975. The spare yet elegant recipe was shared with the world via his book Death Of A Lady’s Man in 1978. Slightly different spelling from the record, also a pretty depressing book, even the recipe’s introduction is melancholy:
“This is the end of my life in art. I am drinking a Red Needle, a drink I invented in Needles, California, tequila and cranberry, lemon and ice. The full measure. I have not been denied the full measure. It happened as I approached my forty-first birthday…. This is drunken talk. This is Red Needles talking. It is too smooth. I am frightened. I don’t know why. Yesterday I was so frightened that I could hardly hand a Red Needle to a monk on Mt Baldy…”
The man himself in the 1990s demonstrating that he can be a lover, a boxer, a doctor, and also a bartender. Proving for the millionth time in a million various ways that If you want a father for your child, he’s your man. Although, not a great spouse, according to himself in Death Of A Lady’s Man.
The Jewish Museum in New York had Red Needles on hand when I was there for the Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything exhibition in May 2019. They standardized the recipe (boo), which was not how it was initially shared, but hey ho.
Lemon and/or exotic fruits
** lemon and/or exotic fruits is an unexpectedly delightful, and yet logical line. Like everything that guy did. Sigh.
The recipe is to be made to your taste, but do be careful it can get pretty potent.
Cohen, Leonard. Death of a Lady's Man. McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1978.