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Adonis Cocktail - Drink Is Nectar Of Greek Gods Burlesque Play

Adonis sherry & vermouth cocktail with orange garnish.


Adonis Cocktail Stimulates Fortified Wine And Food Pairing



The Adonis Cocktail is mixed with dry sherry, sweet vermouth and orange bitters. The lone combination of Spanish and Italian fortified wines makes for a nice low alcohol aperitif to stimulate your appetite before pairing with dinner, but doesn’t exactly match any man cave expectations you might have had for a drink called Adonis.


Drink Named After Greek God’s Burlesque Broadway Play



Henry Dixey as Adonis circa 1885.Like the Rob Roy and many other mixed drinks, the Adonis Cocktail was named after a Broadway play. In fact, the burlesque style musical was the first show on Broadway to run for more than 500 times. The play opened in September, 1884 at the Bijou Theater, 1239 Broadway, New York, NY in a former sporting saloon rebuilt as a light opera house, since demolished, and had a spectacular 19 month string of 603 performances lasting until April, 1886 before closing its original run.

In the musical extravaganza, burlesque comedian Henry E. Dixey plays Adonis, a handsome male statue chiseled from white marble and modeled after the Greek God, who comes to life and then chooses to turn back into stone after finding that being human is intolerable. Dressed in marble white skin tights and sporting some kind of garter belt suspenders while parading around on stage, Henry Dixey cuts a pretty risque figure for the times as the sculpture come to life. A role he later reprises at the Palmer’s Theatre on Broadway.


Behind The Bar - How To Mix An Adonis Cocktail



The bartender who created the Adonis cocktail is lost to history, but the drink was said to have been on the menu at the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar, home to the above mentioned Rob Roy. Scottish kilt, no tights.


Adonis Cocktail Drink Recipe:

  • 2 oz  dry sherry
  • 1 oz  sweet vermouth
  • 1 - 2 dashes  orange bitters
  • Orange peel garnish

Measure the drink ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Optionally garnish with an orange peel.


Similar Drinks And Variations Of The Adonis Cocktail



The Armour cocktail from Modern American Drinks by George Kappeler (1900) is listed as basically a renamed Adonis cocktail. Its recipe calls for equal proportions dry Spanish sherry and sweet Italian vermouth along with an extra dash of orange bitters and a maraschino cherry or orange peel as garnishes. Could the risque tight wearing “under armor” of the play’s lifelike sculpture also have been the inspiration for this drink as well?

Take away the maraschino cherry as an optional garnish from the Armour version of the Adonis cocktail and you have the Duke of Marlborough via Savoy (1930) and others. Change to dry vermouth and add a dash of aromatic bitters and you’ll have a Bamboo cocktail.


More Drinks Mixed With Sherry And Vermouth:

  • Brazil - dry sherry, dry vermouth, licorice liqueur and bitters.
  • East Indian - an Adonis cocktail with dry instead of sweet vermouth or a Bamboo without aromatic bitters.
  • Greenbriar - Fino sherry, French vermouth, peach bitters and a mint sprig.
  • Kaytee Cocktail - a Brazil cocktail with no bitters.
  • Mr. New Yorker - gin, dry sherry, dry vermouth and orange liqueur. Not to be confused with the New York or New Yorker drink recipes.
  • Reform - dry, dry and orange bitters.
  • Soviet Cocktail - Spanish sherry, French vermouth and Russian vodka. Substitutes lemon peel for orange.
  • Stone Cocktail - dry sherry, sweet vermouth and white rum.
  • Syracuse Special - bourbon, sweet & dry sherry, dry vermouth, lemon juice and lemonade.



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