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The Art Of Crafting The Adonis Cocktail: A Complete Guide

adonis cocktail

Adonis in Greek mythology is known to be the epitome of youth and beauty. As per the stories, his appearance led to a fight between goddesses! The god has inspired several works of art, literature and music. And apparently, even the mixology industry! 

The Greek god Adonis symbolises being young and handsome, but if you take a sip of the Adonis cocktail, you wouldn't really relate it to the youthful, attractive mythical figure. The drink is a brownish-looking mix of sherry and sweet vermouth and doesn't particularly evoke a sense of beauty. But... based on the period when it is believed to have been invented, the name Adonis is apt for the drink. 

A Brief History Of Adonis Cocktail

The cocktail first finds mention in the March 27, 1887 edition of The Sun of New York. It carried a profile of a Manhattan bartender called Billy who speaks of the drink. The piece says, "...three young bloods, with bell-crowned beavers of matchless sheen and silver-headed canes of ultra-fashionable immensity who walk into the bar where Billy was bartending and order, 'Three Adonis cocktails, please.'" Billy reportedly goes on to make the drinks confidently and serve them. The youths pay up and leave. However, the writer says, it becomes clear to him that Billy has no clue what an Adonis cocktail is. Billy explains that as a bartender, he needs to know how to make everything in the world, even the latest cocktails demanded by posh youths. 

The description of the three young men in the piece says the men were super fashionable. And, the phrase 'bell-crowned beavers of matchless sheen” means they were wearing an expensive and attractive hat. Thus, though the customers' order 'Adonis cocktail' was not known to Billy, he picked up cues from the young men's appearance and made something he believed was currently hot and trending. Vermouth was very much in trend in the 1880s and was being mixed with everything including gin, and whisky. So it makes sense Billy would stir up a cocktail with vermouth and sherry (an alcohol which hadn't been known to be mixed with vermouth) to create a new, cool drink.

Adonis Cocktail Recipe


30 ml Palo cortado Sherry                                 
30 ml Amontillado Sherry                                     
30 ml Rosso Vermouth                 
2.5 ml Red Bitter Liqueur


Take a mixing glass with ice and add all ingredients and stir well. Strain the concoction into chilled Coupe glass.

'Adonis' The Musical

The Adonis cocktail does find mention in 1913 in a recipe book where it says it is made using two-thirds Italian sweet vermouth to one-third sherry and two dashes of orange bitters. In 1931, Albert Stevens Crockett's recipe revealed that the cocktail is named after a Broadway musical. The musical 'Adonis' opened at Hooley's Opera House in Chicago in 1884 and in New York's Bijou Theatre, later in the same year. It gained popularity for being the longest-running Broadway show of the era.

Today, the Adonis cocktail is known for its low ABV and for being a tasty yet healthier alcoholic beverage.

While it's great to learn about alcoholic beverages and alcohol-infused foods, it is important to also consume alcohol moderately. Remember to serve and drink responsibly to ensure you and your guests are healthy and out of harm's way. If you know anyone who has trouble controlling their alcohol intake, please refer them to a professional immediately.

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