Can’t dance? Try making the Charleston Cocktail


Charleston Cocktail

15ml De Kuyper Marasquin
15ml De Kuyper Triple Sec
15ml Martini Rosso
15ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
15ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
15ml kirsch

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Story by Sam Bygrave
Cocktail image by Christopher Pearce
In association with De Kuyper

No doubt you’ve heard of the Charleston before. We don’t mean the drink we’ve listed here: the Charleston Cocktail isn’t common, and it’s got an uncommon recipe. No, instead we’re talking about the dance by the same name, that was all the rage in late 1920’s America.


It turns out that the drink and the dance have a few things in common.

The Charleston (the dance) looks like hard work to get right (given just a couple minutes watching it on Youtube I’ve wisely decided to avoid it for myself). The Charleston (the drink) also looks like hard work, but it’s booze we’re talking about here and that’s the kind of work I can get stuck into.

Hailing from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, it’s of a similar era to the dance. And with a cast of six ingredients, including two liqueurs, two spirits, and two vermouths, all in equal parts, the recipe doesn’t necessarily look like it should work, but it does.

It’s a formula that, if not done right, could be as messy and ungainly as, well, a drunk doing the Charleston — all flailing limbs and a menace to the public. That’s why it takes work (and it’s probably not a preparation to make when three sheets to the wind). But the work invested is rewarded, as this drink walks a fine balance; a touch on the sweet side of things and suited as a dessert drink, it’s an exercise in complexity but isn’t too much of a departure from classics like the Fancy Gin Cocktail thanks to the use of these liqueurs.

Added to the maraschino flavour of the De Kuyper Marasquin is the kirsch, a distilled cherry spirit. The chocolate notes from the sweet vermouth pair well with the De Kuyper Triple Sec (we’ve switched that in instead of curacao, but a dry style of curacao will work, too) and, of course, the gin; the dry, winey flavour of the dry vermouth dials back the sweetness and gives the drink structure on the palate.

There’s a lot going on this drink, much like the Charleston dance. It’s just that the drink is easier — and tastier — to master.

Notes on ingredients:
De Kuyper Marasquin

  • The distinctive taste of De Kuyper Marasquin comes from Marasca cherries and their crushed kernels.
  • De Kuyper Marasquin is sweetened with roses, which dials back the bitter notes of the cherries and lifts the note of almonds.
  • De Kuyper was founded in 1695, and is a family business — the ninth oldest family business in the Netherlands — and is the world’s biggest producer of cocktail liqueurs.
  • De Kuyper is available through Bacardi Lion

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