Originally made with sweeter Old Tom Gin, the Hi Ho was an elegant twist on the Martini. Hollywood in the mid-1930s was celebrating the demise of one of the most unbearable plagues to descend upon Earth—Prohibition. Prior to Prohibition, cocktails had taken a turn toward ostentation. Perhaps it was the straightforwardness of gin or rye with ginger ale, or the modest cocktails served up at the classier speakeasies, but drinks entered a new age of simplicity and, subsequently, refinement following Prohibition. In this respect, the speakeasy was something of a rough stone waiting to be cut into the fine gem of the nightclub. The Hi Ho, from the Hi Ho Club in Hollywood, was a shining example of everything a cocktail should be. It was cold, crisp, and a pleasure to behold. The use of Old Tom Gin has just about sent this cocktail to the “endangered species list,” but since London dry gin is being substituted these days, the Hi Ho may yet endure.
This drink requires white port. While red port is much more common, white is readily available, and you should not compromise.