Improved Gin Cocktail: old ways to make better drinks


Improved Gin Cocktail

50ml Broker’s Gin
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
7.5ml sugar syrup
7.5ml maraschino liqueur
5ml absinthe

Stir all ingredients and strain into a chilled coupe. Moisten the rim with lemon twist, dropping the garnish into the drink.
Adapted from a recipe in C. F. Lawlor’s The Mixicologist

Story by Sam Bygrave
Photography by Steve Brown
Presented by Adam Cork, The Hazy Rose

In the beginning, as they say, there was the cocktail. Composed of a spirit, bitters, and sugar, it’s the most basic of formulations — one you’ll recognise in the Old Fashioned.


But it didn’t take long for bartenders to start mucking around with that recipe. In Jerry Thomas’ 1862 edition of How to Mix Drinks, you’ll find recipes for a Fancy Gin Cocktail. It’s the same as a Gin Cocktail (gin, bitters, curacao and sugar, strained into a cocktail glass) yet with a twist — literally.

“This drink is made the same as the gin cocktail, except that it is strained in a fancy wine-glass and a piece of lemon peel thrown on top, and the edge of the glass moistened with lemon,” Thomas wrote in his book.

But the tinkering urge didn’t stop there, and in Thomas’ later book, there emerged a refinement to this recipe — and one worth mixing. A dash of absinthe and a couple more of maraschino liqueur replace the curacao. Thomas’ book — and others after it, like C. F. Lawlor’s The Mixicologist — call for either Holland gin (genever) or Old Tom, and the result is the Improved Gin Cocktail.

We’ve used a straight up, juniper-forward London Dry style gin here. The Broker’s Gin we’ve used is the 47 per cent ABV variant, and to the modern day palate it works well — very well.

It’s a formula — much like the spirit-bitters-sugar combo for the Old Fashioned — that you can apply to brandy, whiskey, genever — whatever takes your fancy (or whatever you have on hand). As old timers like Jerry Thomas would have done, it’ll be only a matter of time before you too start tinkering with it.

how to improved gin cocktail steps

Notes on ingredients:

• Broker’s Gin is a traditional London dry style gin. It is made from a 200 year old recipe and desitilled in a traditional copper pot still.

• Luxardo Maraschino is made from the sour marasca cherry. The fruit is distilled, aged for three years in larchwood before one to two years maturation in ashwood vats. It is then diluted and sugared.

• The recipe for Luxardo Maraschino dates back to 1821.

• In Jerry Thomas’ time, this recipe would have likely been made with genever or an Old Tom style of gin. The added sweetness of the Old Tom can be mimicked by a little extra sugar syrup if desired.

improved gin cocktail ingredients

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.