This drink is not nearly as old as some would think. The widely published history behind this drink is a bold lie. One of the first printings of this drink appears as early as:
International guide to drinks by United Kingdom Bartenders’ Guild in 1981
Infact, this publication is the very reason this drink is recognized as a real drink by The Official International Professional Bartender’s Organization. Many believe this drink was printed in :
Cafe Royal Cocktail Book by William Tarling in 1937
Some claim this book was printed in 1937 or 1938, and other sources claim it was published in 1939, However, the “Cafe Royal Cocktail Book” was never published, furthermore, William Tarling was never the name of a person who wrote any publications.
Other well respected sources claim this drink was printed as early as Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock in 1930, this is a blatant lie also. It is not listed by name or ingredient in that book either. It is unclear why so many have purported this drink was printed in these publications, but they are all inaccurate.
It seems like this should have been a drink, particulary around this era, seeing as drinks are more commonly named after popular events or culture. It very well might have been too, but it was not widely published or was never published.
Here is a little history behind the “20th Century Limited” Train:
“20th Century Limited, the deluxe, all-sleeping car express train that operated between Chicago and New York from 1902 through 1967. Billed by the New York Central System as “The Greatest Train in the World,” the Century was accepted by three generations of travelers as the epitome of American achievement in speed, safety, comfort and luxurious on-board service. World travelers compared it favorably to Europe’s legendary Orient Express. To this day, artists and decorators use the classic Art Deco styling and sophisticated grays, blues and silvers chosen by famed industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss when he styled the Century’s sleek new streamlined cars and bullet-nosed steam locomotive in 1938.”
This might be where the 1930’s story comes from, given this was the train’s peak popularity. Whatever the case, this is still an age old classic and deserves to be noted.
This drink dates between 1974 – 1979 (may date far earlier) and contained at least as of then:
Glassware or Vessel: Cocktail
Cordial: Lillet Blanc (Kiss)
White Creme de Cacao
Agent: Lemon Juice
Simple Syrup (Modern)
Garnish: Maraschino Cherry (Modern)