Cocktail Kingdom Library (home)

Improved Cocktail

spirits (genever, cognac or rye), gum syrup, maraschino, bitters and absinthe

Here, in the 1870s, we see the Cock-tail begin to fragment into an infinitely variable, generic class of drink, simultaneous to cocktail culture entering mainstream embrace. The “improved” cocktail was an upgraded cocktail, with a little extra this or that (initially maraschino liqueur and absinthe), probably served in a fancier glass, with a nicer garnish, and probably a higher price. Fancy wasn’t new, but now it was the standard.

The recipe shown is from the second edition (1876) of Jerry Thomas’ book, which may or may not have actually been reworked by Thomas himself. Contemporaries printed similar recipes.

Improved Cocktail

Combine in a mixing glass:

  • 1–2 bar spoons gum syrup or simple syrup
  • 1–2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 2 dashes maraschino liqueur
  • 1 dash absinthe
  • 2 oz pot still genever, straight rye or bourbon

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist

Imbibe!, p. 235; barware icons courtesy of Haus Alpenz