Fedora Cocktail

fedoraA cocktail named after a hat style. Why not? And another drink older than I imagined. In 1882, Sarah Bernhardt played a character named Fedora who wore a short-brimmed hat creased down the center and pinched in front. It quickly became the iconic hat of the twentieth century and the tile of choice for playboys, working stiffs, and gangsters, alike.

The earliest version of this cocktail I can find is Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual, 1888 edition. The exact same recipe appears in the Police Gazette’s Bartender’s Guide by Harry Lamore, printed the same year as Johnson’s book, so the inventor of this drink is obscure.

Fedora (Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Guide, 1888):


(use a large bar glass)

1 pony of Brandy (1 oz)

1 pony of Curacao (1 oz Grand Marnier)

½ pony of Jamaica Rum (½ oz)

½ pony of Bourbon (½ oz)

1 table-spoon of powdered sugar (superfine sugar) dissolved in a little water (or Simple Syrup)

1 slice of Lemon

Fill tumbler with fine ice; shake well and ornament with berries or small pieces of orange, serve with a straw.

This one is served on the rocks, thus the need for straws and, with its topping of fruit, is typical of the period. You’ll probably want to cut back on the sugar unless you like your drinks sweet. Later versions followed suit, but started playing around with the proportions.

Fedora Punch (Kappeler’s  Modern American Drinks, 1906)

1 oz Brandy

½ oz Curacao

½ oz Rum

1 oz Bourbon

Juice of half a Lemon (½ – 1 oz fresh juice)

1 Tbs Sugar (adjust to taste)

Shake well. Serve in a long thin punch-glass, trim with fruit. Sip with straws. 

Again, this should be strained into a glass with ice.

Fedora (Grohusko’s Jack’s Manual, 1910) 

¼ oz Brandy

¼ oz Curacao

½ oz Rum

1 ½ Bourbon

1 tsp Sugar

1 slice of Lemon

Shake well. [strain into a glass with ice] Ornament with fruits in season. Serve with straws.

fedora 5In 1930, something interesting, if subtle, happened. William “Cocktail Bill” Boothby, in his World Drinks and How to Prepare Them presents a Fedora that is half brandy, half curacao, with only a spoonful of the remaining ingredients. Also, gone is the fruit garnish except for a maraschino cherry and the drink is strained into a cocktail glass, no longer served on the rocks with straws. The drink had moved from the Victorian age into the Modern.

Fedora (Boothby’s World Drinks, 1930)

1 oz Brandy

1 oz Curacao

¼ oz Rum

¼ oz Bourbon

¼ oz Lemon Juice

¼ oz Sugar

Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass, add Maraschino cherry and serve.

I have increased slightly the rum, bourbon, lemon, and sugar to get the drink up to three ounces.

Not everyone embraced the change, but some bartenders chose to shrug off the frilly trappings for something neater and more direct. It never seemed to have caught on in Europe. I can find it in no British or French cocktail books and in only one German where the drink is composed of equal parts. It does show up in a book published in Cuba. 2 parts brandy and rye, one part each of rum and curacao. No lemon juice, no garnish, no straws. Then it suddenly drops from the cocktail map. I have no idea why as it is quite a good cocktail and, as can be seen above, possesses the potential of infinite variety both in proportions and well as brands of liquor.  

One Fedora recipe has little or no resemblance to Johnson’s or any of the others. It’s found in Cocktails American en Fancy Drinks Ijsrecepten en Drunken, printed in Amsterdam in 1926. Now, my Danish is a little rusty, but it contained Burgundy wine, cognac, orange juice, and cherry liqueur (thank you Google translator), and finished with Kirschwasser and a bit of soda water. It might be interesting to try, but I’m not familiar with measures in pijpglaasje.

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