The original Tuxedo Cocktail has a safe spot on the IBA's official list of unforgettable cocktails. As with the Corpse Revivers, different variations of the Tuxedo have evolved over the years.
Here, we have the original recipe for you, dating back to the late 1800s. Its taste is reminiscent of a semi-dry Martini with an additional layer of flavors from the Maraschino components. And there's also a slight bite from Absinthe and complexity from the bitters.
Ingredients of the Tuxedo Cocktail
The Tuxedo is a beautiful mix of smooth Gin, Dry Vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, Absinthe, and a generous portion of orange bitters - responsible for the drink's orange hue.
- Gin: First, let's look at the base spirit of the cocktail. Usually, that will be Old Tom. This type of Gin has no strict regulations but usually is subtly sweet. If you're looking for a recommendation, try Hayman's Old Tom. Should you not have Old Tom handy, Dry Gin with a splash of simple syrup works, too.
- Dry Vermouth: Vermouth is a style of fortified wine aromatized with various herbs, spices, and botanicals. For the Tuxedo cocktail, you need the dry version. It is made from white wine with no added sugars. Two of my favorite bottles are those from Noilly Prat and Dolin Dry.
- Maraschino Liqueur: a clear-colored cherry liqueur made from the so-called Marasca cherry. It has a quite distinct, bittersweet, cherry, almondy taste. The top brand for Maraschino liqueur is Luxardo from Italy. Some even believe, Luxardo is the only brand producing genuine Maraschino liqueur. However, that's not true. It's just one of the oldest. Good alternatives are, for instance, Fratelli Vergnano and Lazzaroni.
- Absinthe: probably is the most intriguing ingredient on this list for the Tuxedo cocktail. It was banned in many western countries until the mid-2000 because people believed it would cause hallucinations. Turns out, though, it doesn't. Nonetheless, the Green Fairy never ceased to fascinate people. One dash is enough to give the Tuxedo cocktail this special, boozy kick. Other cocktails with Absinthe worth trying are the Sazerac or the Monkey Gland.
- Bitters: Don't let yourself be fooled by the small amounts in recipes, bitters are real flavor bombs and come in various aromas and savors. The original recipe for the Tuxedo asks for orange bitters. If you don't want to spend a fortune on all sorts of cocktail bitters, get a bottle of Angostura bitters. You can also use them for the Tuxedo, as well, and they are super versatile.
- Garnish: The classic garnish for the original Tuxedo cocktail is a Maraschino cherry with a lemon peel skewered together on a cocktail pick. Don't mistake Maraschino cherries for the artificially red, candy-like cocktail cherries you often see in cheap cocktails. Those are not the real deal.
Genuine Maraschino cherries have a sweet but still natural and slightly almond-like taste, and - unfortunately - quite pricey. If you're looking for a substitute, Amarena cherries are a good and more affordable choice. Or you make some Maraschino-style cherries at home.
History of the Tuxedo Cocktail
The Tuxedo cocktail goes back to the 1880s. And the name hasn't been picked randomly. The drink has its origin in the Tuxedo Park in New York. The place where the actual Tuxedo - the tailless menswear- came up.
Tuxedo Park was an early version of a country club. Well-heeled New Yorkers frequented or even moved into the prosperous retort village, where sports and parties were the top priority.
Viscount William Waldorf Astor also had been a so-called Tuxedoite. And it was in his Waldorf Astoria bar where the Tuxedo cocktail made its first appearance.
On a side note: one of the first written down recipes of the Tuxedo in Daly’s Bartenders’ Encyclopedia from 1903 asked for a maple Gin. -It seems like there was a time when this was an actual thing. However, it did not last, so it is Old Tom now.
Variations of this drink
Many refer to the original Tuxedo cocktail as a variation of the classic Martini. Still, it is one of the many classics that, over the years, has acquired a respectable number of new interpretations and riffs.
As with the Corpse Reviver cocktails, the official twists of the cocktail are numbered. Currently, there are five recipes: The original and four more versions, numbered one to four.
Tuxedo Cocktail No 1 - you could expect the No 1 to be the original, but one should interpret the name as the first variation of the original.
It dates back to the early 1900s. The blend of Gin, dry Vermouth, and Absinthe first appeared in the famous Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock.
Tuxedo Cocktail No 2 - this is another twist on the original from Savoy Cocktail Book. Instead of sweet Gin, it asked for dry Gin, as this had become more fashionable. The remaining ingredients stayed the same.
So if you don't have a sweeter Gin on hand and go with Dry Gin, simply turn your drink into the Tuxedo Cocktail No 2.
Tuxedo Cocktail No 3 - The No 3 variation probably is even older than the first or the second. And it is the first that actually adds an element as it requires an extra dash of Sherry.
Tuxedo Cocktail No 4 - This version is even heavier on the Sherry: It's a mix of 2 parts dry Gin, 1 part Sherry, and a dash of orange bitters.
- 1 Mixing glass
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Bar spoon
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 1.5 oz Old Tom Gin
- 1.5 oz Dry Vermouth
- ½ tsp Maraschino Liqueur
- ½ tsp Absinthe
- 3 dashes Orange bitters
- 1 Maraschino cherry - for garnish
- 1 lemon peel - for garnish
- Add ice cubes into your cocktail glass to chill it before pouring your drink.
- Pour all ingredients, including the bitters, into a mixing glass filled with ice.1.5 oz Old Tom Gin, 1.5 oz Dry Vermouth, ½ tsp Maraschino Liqueur, ½ tsp Absinthe, 3 dashes Orange bitters
- Give the mix a good stir.
- Remove the ice cubes from the cocktail glass, and then strain your drink into it.
- Garnish with lemon peel and Maraschino cherry1 Maraschino cherry, 1 lemon peel