Bourbon Ginger Algonquin Cocktail
January 19, 2021
I should probably just rename this blog to “Twist on a Classic,” because that is one of my favorite types of recipes to make – especially when it comes to cocktails. This one is based on one that may date back to the pre-prohibition era, and is named after a famous hotel in New York City. Give this bourbon ginger version of the vintage Algonquin cocktail a try.
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On the island of Manhattan stands a historical landmark: The Algonquin Hotel. This time-honored destination first opened in the early twentieth century and was named for the native tribe that previously inhabited the New York City area. However, no one knows for sure if the eponymous cocktail was actually created, or even ever served, there.
In any case, the original drink combines rye whiskey with pineapple juice and dry vermouth. It was certainly an interesting flavor combination on its own. My version has a bit of a twist, with the addition of ginger beer and bitters, and using bourbon instead of rye. However, the basic concept is rooted in the original.
What You Need to Get Started
- From the Bar: Bourbon, Dry vermouth, Orange bitters, Cardamom bitters
- Pantry: Pineapple juice, Ginger beer, Crystallized ginger
- Equipment: Mixing glass, Bar spoon, Mesh strainer, Rocks glasses, Cocktail skewers
Let’s Make a Bourbon Ginger Cocktail
Like most cocktails, this one comes together fairly easily and quickly. There are no fancy techniques or tools here. In fact, you don’t even need a shaker for this one. It’s stirred, not shaken. The anti-Bond, if you will.
Get started by gathering all of your ingredients, and adding everything except the ginger beer into a mixing glass filled about one-third of the way with ice. If you don’t have a specific vessel set aside for mixing cocktails, any tall or highball glass will do the trick.
The same goes for the stirring implement. If you have a bar spoon, it’s a perfect choice. However, if not, any long-handled spoon will do. Ice cream sundae spoons are perfect.
I usually add liquids according to volume. So start with the bourbon. A traditional Algonquin is made with rye, or even Canadian whiskey. However, bourbon is a bit more palatable to the non-whiskey drinker. It is a bit sweeter and syrupy, whereas a rye is spicier and more savory. Feel free to experiment with your favorites.
Dry vermouth and pineapple juice are the next ingredients, and these are each part of the original recipe. Whatever vermouth you have on hand to make martinis is perfect. And this is actually a great way to use up vermouth before it goes bad.
Unlike most liquors, vermouth must be stored in the fridge once it’s opened, and even then only lasts about a month or so. Unless you are making a martini every evening, it can be difficult to use up. A big batch of these will do the trick.
Next add a couple dashes of each type of bitters. Orange is a fairly standard one to keep on your bar. Try adding a little bit next time you make an old fashioned, instead of the classic aromatic bitters.
Cardamom bitters are a little bit less common. I use Fee Brothers, which are said to be made in the Boker’s style. This was a bitters brand that stopped being manufactured because of prohibition, and was recreated thanks to a small sample found in 2009.
After adding the dashes of each bitters, stir everything together until well-combined and the ice begins to melt slightly. This will dilute the cocktail and help chill it. Then pour through a mesh strainer into a rocks glass with fresh ice.
Top the glass with the ginger beer, and give it one more quick stir. Finally, add a couple pieces of candied ginger to a toothpick or cocktail skewer, and place on the edge of the glass. If you let the ginger fall in, it adds an extra sweetness to the drink, and the alcohol lends its flavor to the candy.
If you are making more than one of these, use fresh ice for each one, or make a couple at the same time using a large enough glass or pitcher. You can multiply this recipe easily. Just make a large batch combing all the ingredients except ginger beer.
Then strain individual portions over fresh ice, top with the ginger beer, garnish and serve.
Looking for a new favorite cocktail? This bourbon and ginger version of the Algonquin adds a fun new twist to the classic pineapple drink!
How to Serve an Algonquin Cocktail
This cocktail is best served right after mixing, since the ice will melt more the longer it sits at room temperature. To serve a large crowd, follow the instructions above on how to make a bigger batch, so you don’t need to play bartender all day.
The ginger and pineapple flavors make this a fun and unique choice for a brunch drink. Try pairing it with something light and fruity like apple pear crisp. Or serve a savory and flavorful dish like a chorizo-spiced veggie flatbread.
It also works well as a nightcap or with desserts. I would stick with flavors that compliment the ginger, such as other spices. Try cinnamon roll cupcakes for a fun treat, or an apple tart with bourbon-rye crust for something a bit more classic.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Bourbon is featured in some of my favorite cocktails! Try an amaretto old fashioned for something strong or a chocolate turtle martini for something sweet.
- Pineapple juice is the base of another favorite cocktail: a spicy pineapple margarita, which is a great alternative if you are more of a tequila drinker.
Bourbon Ginger Angonquin Cocktail
- 1 ½ oz Bourbon
- ¾ oz Dry Vermouth
- ¾ oz Pineapple Juice
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
- 2 dashes Cardamom Bitters or Boker's-style bitters
- 1 oz Ginger Beer
- 2-3 pieces Crystallized Ginger for garnish
- In a mixing glass, combine all the ingredients except for the ginger beer and garnish with ice. Stir until the drink is cold and uniform, about 10-15 seconds.
- Pour through a mesh strainer strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Top with the ginger beer, and garnish with the crystallized ginger pieces on a cocktail skewer or toothpick. Serve immediately.
- Make a large batch: You can multiply this drink easily. Mix up all the ingredients except the ginger beer, strain over fresh ice per glass and then top each with ginger beer and garnish to serve.