This drink was popular even until 1990, but it ran a good streak. You can occasionally hear this drink called from time to time. Here is an early printing of this drink:
Jerry Baker’s Back to Nature Almanac : No. 1 by Jerry baker in 1973
“Velvet Hammer: light creme de cacao, Cointreau, cream.”
Turns out, this drink has always called for Cointreau and light creme de cacao, which is contrary to popular belief because many believe this drink calls for Vodka, dark creme de cacao, and cream. The dark creme de cacao was used primarily after 1975 and was beleived this is how the drink obtained it’s name, by mixing dark creme de cacao and cream giving a “velvet” color.
This is not true at all and every early recipe calls for light creme de cacao anyway. So where did the name come from? We can accurately determine it wasn’t from the actual tool a “velvet tipped hammer”, which was used on finishing nails and small tacks so you would not damage any framework when using the hammer. These fell out of style long before this drink was mentioned as we see here:
The Forum: Volume 65 – Page 22 by Lorettus Sutton Metcalf, Walter Hines Page, Joseph Mayer Rice in 1921
“it should use a sledge rather than an old velvet-covered tack hammer?”
Through extensive research we have not been able to accurately determine when cointreau was introduced to most of the american drinking society, we can say it was some time between 1950 – 1960. This drink appears at the same time as cointreau, it’s base ingredient, but we have been unable to link the drink to Cointreau and no campaign ads for this drink and the triple sec are found during this time period.
It is much more likely someone took advantage of the new spirits introduction and made a drink. Not just any drink, this drink appears to derive from 2 popular songs in the summer of 1963. Needless to say, whoever created this one knew how to make a drink that would be around a while. Drinks are typically named after popular culture references, what better way to launch a drink than a new spirit, and 2 popular songs? This person was absolutely brilliant, when it comes to creating drinks that will stand the test of time.
Between June and October of 1963, these two songs were both on the top ten billboards greatest hits. Here is a reference (there are several) to the summer of 1963 popular hits:
Billboard – Sep 12, 1963 – Page 24 Vol. 75, No. 41
“1. BLUE VELVET— Bobby Vinton, Epic 9614; Lawrence Welk, Dot 16526. 2. BE MY BABY— Ronettes, Philles 3. MARTIAN HOP — Ran-Dells .4 IF I HAD A HAMMER— Trini Lopez, Reprise 20198”
It appears in late september of 1963 the songs “Blue Velvet” and “If I had a Hammer” we’re #1 and #2 and this might actually be the exact time of creation, that is only speculatory though. As “Blue Velvet” fell and “If I had a Hammer” rose, so did the Velvet Hammer. This drink dates to late 1963 and contained at least as of then:
Roll these ingredients:
Dark creme de cacao
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.