Stinger cocktail on silver tray garnished with mint; next to jigger

Stinger

By Timo Torner / Last updated on November 21, 2022 

First published on November 16, 2021 

The Stinger is an elegant two-ingredient cocktail. It is a perfect after-dinner drink that is as easy to sip as it is to make.

Made with Cognac and white crème de menthe, the Stinger drink is a sophisticated representative of Brandy cocktails

The recipe is simple and makes for a sweet, strong, and minty drink. It pairs perfectly with a luscious chocolate-based dessert. In contrast to, e.g., the Grasshopper, another after-dinner drink made with crème de menthe, the mint notes are far more restrained. They are just enough to add a fresh kick to the cocktail.

Most likely, this drink is derived from an old version of the Judge cocktail, a mix of Brandy, gomme syrup, and crème de menthe. Also, the Stinger once had an immense impact on society and was regarded as an upper-class cocktail.

Jump to Recipe | Ingredients | How to make it | History | Stinger in movies | Shaken or Stirred?

Ingredients of the Stinger Cocktail

The Stinger cocktail is a beautiful two-component drink with both ingredients being native to France: Cognac & Crème de Menthe.

Which Cognac to use?

For a great Stinger, you need a quality VSOP Cognac. VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale and refers to quality Cognac, where the youngest brandy in the blend has aged no less than four years. 

Excellent value for money is, for instance, Hennessy and Rémy Martin. Yet, if you want to get something more budget-friendly, the VS from Hennessy is a more economical alternative, or also, a Salignac is fine for mixing.

If you're after one of these recent celebrity expressions, try Jay-Z's D'Ussé Cognac or Branson from 50 Cent.

Stinger Cocktail with fresh mint on silver tray

White Crème de Menthe

Crème the Menthe is a peppermint liqueur. Crème, in this context, does not refer to the consistency of the liquor but to the high amount of sugar it contains.

The minty liqueur is available in colorless and bright green. Even though both taste more or less the same, the Stinger Cocktail always is made with the white version to get a better visual.

How to make it

According to the general rule for cocktails with alcoholic ingredients only, we prepare this drink stirred in a mixing glass. Also, a rocks glass is the standard to serve the Stinger Drink:

Step 1: Add ice cubes to your mixing glass and fill in the Cognac and the mint liqueur.

Step 2: Use a bar spoon and stir for about 20 seconds (this usually equals approximately 50 rounds). That's the time it takes to chill the drink properly and achieve the necessary dilution.

Step 3: Strain your cocktail into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice and garnish it with a sprig of fresh mint.

History of the Stinger drink

Historians agree that Reginald Vanderbilt invented this drink in his home bar. Yet, Jacques Straub was the first to publish the recipe in written form in his book Straub's Manual of Mixed Drinks in 1913. Back then, it was received as an interpretation of the Judge cocktail, published about 22 years earlier. 

Stinger recipe from Straub's book "Straub's Manual of Mixed drinks": 
1/2 jigger brandy
1/2 jigger creme de menthe, white
1 lemon peel
Shake, strain into cocktail glass

The Judge was part of german-born bartender William Schmidt's book called the Flowing Bowl from 1891. Its recipe consisted of Brandy, crème de menthe, and a bit of gomme syrup for balance. 

Judge cocktail recipe from William Schmidt's book "Flowing Bowl"

Vanderbilt's version became an instant success with the high society of New York City. Part of this society were the Vanderbilts, an American family that had immigrated from the Netherlands and built an empire in shipping and railroads.

Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt was a child of Cornelius Vanderbilt - the richest American until his death in 1877. Also, he was a keen cocktail maker living in a mansion on 5th Avenue in NYC. He even had a full-grown bar in his mansion where he experimented and mixed cocktails for himself and his guests. 

In his book Imbibe, cocktail historian and author David Wondrich once recounted a newspaper from 1923 crediting "Reggie" Vanderbilt with the invention of a drink called Stinger, which explains the upper-class status of the cocktail. 

Top view Stinger Cocktail served on ice with fresh mint garnish

The Cocktail mentioned in movies

Like other cocktails known from film and TV, this drink also starred in successful productions like the film High Society. It is a movie from 1956 with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Also, secret agent James Bond drinks a Stinger in Diamonds are forever

However, over time, the love for the flavorful two-ingredient cocktail faded. And after the 1970s, the drink became more and more forgotten. Today it is a very rare find in cocktail bars around the world.

Shaken or stirred

One question that often comes up when discussing the Stinger is how one should prepare it. That is because, typically, spirits-only drinks are stirred and not shaken.

However, in this case, it is different. Traditionally a Stinger is shaken on ice and then strained into a chilled coupe glass (without ice).

Nowadays, you can find other ways to prepare the drink. Stirred on ice in a mixing glass and then strained into a glass filled with crushed ice is our favored method. That way, the cocktail remains cooler and tastes even more refreshing.

Stinger cocktail on silver tray garnished with mint; next to jigger

Stinger

A fine and refreshing drink made of Cognac and white crème de menthe.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: Brandy, Cognac
Servings: 1
Calories: 217kcal
Cost: $3.90

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Cognac
  • 0.75 oz White crème de menthe
  • 1 Sprig of mint

Instructions

  • Add both ingredients into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
    2 oz Cognac, 0.75 oz White crème de menthe
  • Stir the drink until it's well-chilled.
  • Strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.
  • Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
    1 Sprig of mint

Nutrition

Serving: 3oz | Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.5g | Fat: 0.07g | Sodium: 1.75mg | Sugar: 10.5g | Iron: 0.18mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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