Saratoga Cocktail

Originally, cocktails had such fanciful names as “gin cocktail”, “whiskey cocktail”, and “brandy cocktail”. Now that is some creativity the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. Such names were common in the original bartender’s guide published in 1862 by Jerry Thomas. By the time he published his second book in 1887; cocktail names had taken a decidedly different turn. Besides the Manhattan, Morning Glory, and Martinez cocktail, we also see one of the first appearances of the Saratoga cocktail. This variation on a Manhattan includes brandy along with the whiskey.


3/4 oz sweet vermouth

3/4 oz brandy

3/4 oz rye whiskey

2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters


Stir with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.


blair frodelius 15 Jun 2009
5:14 am


I was recently in Saratoga Springs, NY and stayed at the Saratoga Hotel.  I asked the bartender if they could make a Saratoga Cocktail, and of course, they had no idea what I was talking about.  But, they said they could make me an Apple-tini.  I declined.

Ah, time marches on….


Dominik MJ aka the opinionated alchemist 15 Jun 2009
5:20 am

This looks like a tweaked Manhattan.
I am not absolutely fond to mix base spirits [even though it is an authentic recipe] - as the specific character of the spirit merges up and can no more identified as such.

However the video like always is great itself!

Robert Hess 15 Jun 2009
5:29 am

Blair, Hillarious Story! And far too often the case unfortunately.

Dominik, I agree, there aren’t that many true classics out there which mix different spirits together, but I try not to use that as a barrier. Granted, a drink such as this might not specifically celebrate the “rye” or the “brandy” individually, but should that prevent it from being a classic cocktail? Don Beach and Trader Vic took mixing different rums together in order to end up with a new flavor to an artform, and in France they have long mixed different grapes together to achieve a particular flavor profile. :->

Dominik MJ aka the opinionated alchemist 15 Jun 2009
12:06 pm

Dear Robert,

of course featuring two base spirits doesn’t prevent it to be a classic cocktail [classic in the meaning of historic].
I actually don’t like to mix different rums together to achieve a new flavor, because I think, that you can find a specific product, which could features exactly what you are looking for [instead of dark and light rum, you could use aged rum]...

IMHO preparation of cocktails has a different approach as producing spirits, cordials, wines…
Latter can be tweaked by dozen products to achieve the expectations of producer, brand, costumers.
To produce a cocktail supposed to be more straight forward - and I prefer, that it displays the main ingredient.

Still I am respecting the concept of two base spirits drinks - though personally I am opposing this…

George R. Welch 21 Jun 2009
12:38 pm

I don’t normally drink rye whiskey, but I recently bought some with the specific intention of making myself a vieux carre, since I was in a New Orleans mood.  As I was tasting my drink, I realized what a doofus I was (or that I was a little tipsy) and that I had forgotten the Benedictine!  Only today after watching this video did I realize that what I had actually made was a Saratoga, but with Peychaud’s bitters added.  Ahhh mixology.  :-).

Federico Cuco 4 Aug 2009
9:41 am

I hadn`t tried a Saratoga before , I found the cocktail Delicious.
Thank You Ever soo Much Robert.
I’ll add The Saratoga to the blackboard of my bar tonight.
I hope My costumers like it.

Thanks again,

Federico Cuco
788 FoodBar Buenos Aires

Steve Rosenthal 7 Sep 2009
3:45 pm

Wow.  What a nice drink.  I used Sazerac rye, Korbel XS brandy, and Noilly Pratt sweet vermouth (and of course, Angostura bitters), and it wound up tasting similar to sherry.

Jeffrey Benefiel 4 Apr 2010
1:46 am

Hmm, this reminds me of a cocktail a bartender taught me called the Vieux Carre which uses 3/4 oz each of Cognac, Sweet Vermouth, Rye and then a dash of Angostura and a dash of Peychaulds and an 1/8 teaspoon Benedictine with a lemon twist garnish

Small Screen Colin 4 Apr 2010
4:21 am


You can watch Robert making the Vieux Carre here:

Thanks for watching!

Federico Cuco 4 Apr 2010
6:02 am

Gracias Jeffrey!

Marcel 25 Jul 2011
3:46 pm

I found this recipe of the saratoga in an old german cocktail book from 1925. I think it’s very interesting because its not the same cocktail as in Jerry Thomas his book. It’s the first time I seen this recipe, but i have found it online.

2 dashes Angostura-bitters
2 dashes Maraschino
2 tablespoons pineapple syrup
1 1/2 oz Cognac
Shake and strain in a champagne glas and add a lemon wheel and a dash of champagne.

You can read the book here :
(It’s on page 38)

Have you ever seen a recipe like this?

Robert Hess 26 Jul 2011
7:12 am

Marcel, it can be very hard to maintain definative namings of cocktails, especially amongst drinks which are lesser known. When I create drinks myself, I try to make sure that there haven’t been previously known drinks using the same name, but on several occassions I later encounter an obscure drink going by the same name.

The Saratoga recipe you’ve come across looks amazingly similar to the “East India House” cocktail which you can see here: it’s just missing one ingredient (and different ratios).

Myself, I usually find that pineapple juice can dominate a drink pretty quickly if too much is used. With this drink being 2 parts pineapple to 3 parts cognac, it sounds like the cognac might take the back seat here, with the angostura and maraschino getting sort of lost in the mix. But I’ll have to give it a try.


Marcel 26 Jul 2011
2:29 pm

I wrote the wrong measurement for the pineapple syrup. It should be 2 teaspoons and not tablespoons.

oliver 22 May 2012
4:36 pm

In Wondrich`s Imbibe a Saratoga is a Fancy Brandy Cocktail with a dash of champagne (page 192, same as a Chicago Cocktail). That brings us closer to the recipe of Sauter which Marcel brought up. But why chose Thomas the name Saratoga for the above recipe? He should have known that there is a drink with that name.

Robert Hess 23 May 2012
8:11 am

Oliver, It isn’t known if the Saratoga cocktial that is listed in the 1887 was actually created by Thomas, or if he simply had it in his repitoire. The 1887 edition was published two years after Thomas died, which brings some question as to exactly how much his talents were actually behind it, or if it was just somebody leveraging his name.

The Saratoga as listed in Imbibe, I believe was a later drink. David himself says it was from just prior to Prohibition, which would be in the early 1900’s, while the version I made here is from the late 1800’s. I’ll have to check with David to see if he has any additional details.


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