Opera Cocktail

A pre-prohibition cocktail which highlights the value of orange bitters. Few bartenders will know this once popular drink, but is worth rediscovering.


2 oz gin

1/2 oz Dubonnet

1/4 oz maraschino liqueur

dash orange bitters


Stir with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist.


Robert Hess 17 Aug 2007
8:44 am

There are several bars that I’ve introduced the “Opera” to, who have since made it a standard on their cocktail menu.

I always love to see cocktail menus which have a variety of gin based cocktails on them, especially when they are as good as this one.

Trevor Bruss 11 Nov 2007
8:14 pm

What’s the best way to store aromatized wines like Dubonnet or vermouth for someone with a home bar?  Since they are wines, is it best to refrigerate them or can they be left on the shelf.  I don’t see myself using the spirits as quickly as a regular bar would and I’m curious about the shelf life.

Robert Hess 16 Nov 2007
2:36 pm

I used to store my vermouths on the shelf along with my other spirits, but soon learned the value of keeping them in the refridgerator. Not only will they eventually go off (although not as quickly as normal wine), but they will also start throwing off deposits, leaving little black and white specs in your drinks which don’t look very appealing.


Johan 10 Dec 2007
5:10 am

haha you’ve done it again. It doesent say how to make the cocktail, it just says garnish with a lemon twist. More of these forgotten cocktails please.

Robert Hess 10 Dec 2007
6:10 am

Johan, that’s where watching the video comes in, you don’t want to spoil the plot do you :->

I assume you are wanting to know that the Opera is made by “Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.”?

Small Screen Colin 10 Dec 2007
10:21 am

Johan, our ever vigilant viewer! We have fixed it for you on the site.

Thanks for watching!

Johan 11 Dec 2007
7:27 am

haha i do first watch the video, then look to my left and read the recipe and write it down in my book. So, i do watch the videos.

Karin Koepcke 1 Feb 2008
8:41 am

My sister in-law is getting married in June, and has asked me to create a signature champagne mix that would include rose-oil,rose water, or rose petals.

Robert Hess 1 Feb 2008
9:49 am

Instead of rose-oil or rose water, I might recommend a rose syrup. Monin makes one, and you can often find them at “eastern” food stores. Champagne with a little drizzle of that, and perhaps a single rose petal for a garnish would be simple and excellent.

Stevi Deter 24 Mar 2008
10:22 pm

Is there anywhere in the Seattle area that carries orange bitters (or anything else but Angostura)? I did find Peychauds at WA Liquor Store #101, which has been put to good use in many a Sazerac. But I’ve been hoping to avoid shipping costs before splurging on some Regans or Fees!

Thanks again for a great site. You do a wonderful job of showing just how fun and worthwhile it is to take the effort to make good cocktails!

Robert Hess 25 Mar 2008
7:17 am

We’re fortunate in Seatle to have DeLaurentis Market down in the Pike Place Market which (usually) has a fairly good selection of bitters available. They seem to periodically run out of, and take their time at restocking, the Regans Orange Bitters however.

For folks not so lucky, thankfully Kegworks.com carries virtually a full line of bitters, and I’d be recommending them here even if they weren’t sponsoring some of these episodes :->

Here is a link to their lineup:


Russ Simpson 6 Jun 2008
10:07 am

What’s the shelf life of Dubonnet?

Russ Simpson

Stevi Deter 6 Jun 2008
10:15 am

I did finally get a bottle of Regan’s (from Kegworks, because I keep not having time to get to Pikes Place Market).

While this is an OK cocktail with Angostura, it really does shine with the orange bitters. Amazing how such a small amount of flavor makes such a difference.

Robert Hess 6 Jun 2008
12:34 pm

Dubonnet, being a “fortified wine” has a longer shelf life than traditional wine, but less of a shelf life than spirits (which essentially last forever).

Unopened, it should be good for many years, although I’ve never tried to test that out.

Once opened, they are best kept in the refrigerator, because on the shelf they will noticeably degrade in quality within a month, and begin tossing off flecks of sediment within a year. It won’t hurt you to drink “old” Dubonnet, but it won’t taste as good, and once it starts leaving sediment, it won’t look as good either.


Barry 28 Jul 2008
5:57 pm

Someone was trying to petition Hess to make the kits in mass, can’t find the petition now but it was located on http://www.petitionspot.com/

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