Fairbank Cocktail

This cocktail was believed to have been named after Douglas Fairbanks Sr. If that was the case, then why is it “Fairbank” and not “Fairbanks”? An alternate story says it was named after Charles Warren Fairbank, who was Theodore Roosevelt’s vice president.


1 1/2 ounces gin

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

2 dashes Bitter Truth Orange Bitters

2 dashes crème de noyeux


Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a cherry (although I forgot to).


Ginty 23 Aug 2012
12:51 pm

Ahhh, Creme de Noyeux. Yet ANOTHER ingredient I can’t get in Canada. Anyone know a decent sorce in the States incase I do some cross border shopping?

steve7500 23 Aug 2012
2:32 pm

  Canada is a big place. If you live in Ontario, a plus. I am in Detroit. I am sure you get the picture. Glad to help.

Ginty 24 Aug 2012
2:10 pm

I am in Ontario, but I’m fortunate to get around. Any leads by the borders would be great. Even anyplace in California, I think I’ll be out there sometime soon.

steve7500 25 Aug 2012
8:25 am

Ginty, I’ll get back to you today. Check this site.  I am going to the Wine Shop in a few mins to check for SNAP, so I will check the other for both of us.

steve7500 25 Aug 2012
10:16 am

Well Ginty,this is your lucky day - I found it and it is less than $8.00 (US) for one Liter.
I couldn’t believe it. I think it is a Hiram Walker Brand so am surprised it’s not in Canada.
I found it in Rochester Hills, MI at Red Wagon Wine Shoppe. If you cross at Sarnia it will only be an hour + a few mins. If you cross at the tunnel , it is N.on I-75 about 35 Miles,easy drive. A nice store with min state prices so you might even find a few other items while you are there. Adieu

Ginty 1 Sep 2012
2:36 pm

Woah, thanks Steve! I appreciate the detective work. I might be that way soon, so I’ll be sure to stop by. Ha! You’d be surprised how many Canadian products we DON’T have access to in Ontario. The LCBO is run by idiots.

steve7500 2 Sep 2012
6:29 am

Anytime my friend.

Uncle Sanguine 13 Sep 2012
8:18 pm

I live in Winnipeg, and I usually frequent Happy Harry’s in Fargo, ND, when I go shopping over the border.  Its a liquor store the size of a Toys R Us.  They have alot of things that I can’t get here in Canada.

steve7500 13 Sep 2012
8:43 pm

Do they have a web site and do they ship out of state ?

Martinobal 12 Nov 2014
3:23 pm

Hi, Robert. I have a doubt about storing dry vermouth in the fridge. I also asked in The Chanticleer Society a few days ago, sorry for asking twice, but I really want to know this.

So, in your videos you recommend storing vermouth in the fridge, which sounds like a good idea. But then I remember that in your article “The Perfect Martini” you stress that water is very important to a Martini, and lament that some people “are so intent on making a really cold martini that they store the gin and cocktail shaker in the freezer, and the Vermouth in the refrigerator.”

So, if I’m making a dry Martini and I store the vermouth in the fridge, as you recommend, won’t it get too little water from the ice? Should I take some vermouth and let it warm up before I use it? should I add some extra water?

Robert Hess 12 Nov 2014
5:18 pm


Very good question! The big issue with the pre-chilled martini process is more the spirits in the freezer than the vermouth in the fridge. While storing your vermouth in the fridge will start things off cold enough to impact the ice-dilution effect, it won’t be by a lot. You could simply add a splash of water to bring things back into balance, or simply stir it for a little longer.

If you want to geek out about this, try an experiment where you make your martini first with room temp vermouth, and then measure it after you are done. Then make one with cold vermouth, and measure it (stirring exactly the same time/frequency, which can be hard). The difference in volume will be the difference in ice-dilution. Using that as a starting point, make a third one, this time stirring for a longer time, and measure it again. You can now use the delta between the two in order to find out approximately how much longer you need to stir in order to achieve the same ice-dilution as with room temp vermouth… noting of course that thermal transfer is not strictly linear, but for this situation it should suffice to treat it as such.


Martinobal 17 Nov 2014
11:16 am

Thanks, Robert! I think I’ll just add water ad libitum to my Martinis :) But indeed, it would be nice to do the experiment you describe, maybe with a stirring magnet and standard-sized icecubes.

Robert Hess 29 Jun 2015
4:23 pm

I’d like to add a follow up to the general “history” of this particular drink. To begin with, the oldest references I have found so far, clearly call it a “Fairbanks” cocktail and not a “Fairbank”, so that little issue is resolved.

As to if it was named after Douglas Fairbanks, or Charles Warren Fairbanks, that too appears to be resolved as well, by the same reference. It was clearly Charles Warren Fairbanks.

My reference is coming from the Chicago Tribune, from July 22, 1907. You can find it on the bottom of the front page here:


As the story goes, Mr. Fairbanks (Theodore Roosevelt’s vice president) held a little party for Teddy on Memorial day of 1907. At this party he served cocktails. Mr. Fairbanks was not only a Methodist (who don’t drink, being the son of a Methodist minister, I know), but also a teetotaler. The “Prohibition Party” took note of this, and made sure the journalists of the day did too. This became known as the “cocktail incident” and Mr. Fairbanks was concerned about the tarnish on his reputation. It just so happened, that almost immediately after this broke out, Mr. Fairbanks saved a waitress from drowning by diving into Yellowstone lake, this could have been the incident that put his political career back on track, but unfortunately since it looked exactly like that, it also looked like it was probably staged, which just made things worse.

Thus, it was on July 20, 1907 that Henry Hoffman, bartender at McTaque’s in St. Louis, took it upon himself to memorialize the event with a suitable cocktail. Basically a dry Martini, with a dash of crème de noyeux, served over ice in a tall thin glass, and garnished with a cherry.

No details of exactly what Mr. Hoffman was thinking when he created the drink exist, but I can make some guesses. It started with the dry Martini basically because it was such a popular cocktail of the day. The “nut” flavored liqueur was probably to symbolize the… well… you know. The ice was probably to symbolize the chilly waters of Yellowstone Lake, and the cherry was there because one of the stories that came out of the “cocktail incident” was that one of the attendees (Indiana Governor J. Frank Hanley) was noted as saying he: “did not even eat the cherry that lay in the bottom of the glass” (New York Times, 6 July 1907).

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