The Oriental Cocktail

z LouiseCocktail names are an enigma. They can be descriptive. They can be named for a famous (or not-so-famous) personage. They can be named after a place or an event. Sometimes vastly different recipes have the same name. Sometimes the name makes no damn sense at all.

So it is with the Oriental Cocktail from Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. He must have had a rationale for naming this cocktail the Oriental; the ingredients are American, Italian, and French. Fortunately, Harry was good enough to give us the backstory.

In August, 1924, an American Engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines, and only the extraordinary devotion of Dr. B— saved his life. As an act of gratitude the Engineer gave Dr B— the recipe of this Cocktail.


Bartenders have a reputation for telling a good story, and they don’t get much gooder than that one. Yeesh! I’d love to hear the story behind his One Exciting Night Cocktail. Anyway, here it is.

Oriental Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey

3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth

3/4 oz Orange Curaçao or Cointreau

1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and/or an orange twist.

Craddock’s original recipe calls for the juice of half a lime, so 1/2 ounce is a good place to start. With both curaçao and sweet vermouth, this cocktail is going to lean toward the sweet side, so an overproof rye is a good idea to help cut through it. 

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