Abbey Cocktail Recipe

Classic Abbey Cocktail
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  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail (serving)

The abbey cocktail makes an excellent brunch cocktail that gives gin a lively kiss of orange. It's fantastically simple and the recipe can easily become a new favorite for the mid-morning meal, especially when you're ready for something beyond mimosas.

This recipe comes from Harry Craddock's "The Savoy Cocktail Book," which was published in 1930. It's a beautiful gin martini with Lillet Blanc and orange juice. The orange bitters set it off perfectly, leaving you with a lovely old-fashioned cocktail that is satisfying and an absolute delight to drink. Plus, there is an easier version (if you don't have Lillet) and a few ways to tweak it to perfectly suit your taste.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, pour the gin, orange juice, and orange bitters.

  3. Shake well.

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

  5. Garnish with the cherry.

  6. Serve and enjoy!


  • As with any martini, your best abbey cocktail will use premium gin as a base.
  • Some drinkers prefer a very botanical-heavy gin like the London dry style while others prefer something softer so the botanicals don't fight the orange juice. Explore all of the gin options to see which you like best. Don't forget about Plymouth Gin or genever, both of which were very common in classic drinks.
  • Lillet Blanc is a fortified wine that's famously called for in James Bond's Vesper martini. Similar to dry vermouth, it has a sweet orange note that's ideal for this cocktail.
  • Since this drink relies on the orange juice, fresh is best. The average orange yields 2 to 3 ounces of juice, so squeezing one fruit will be enough for a few cocktails.

Recipe Variations

  • Cocchi Americano is a perfect substitute for Lillet Blanc and actually has a bitterness that was lost in Lillet's current recipe. The original abbey cocktail called for Kina Lillet, which included quinine (responsible for the dry bitterness of tonic water). For a seemingly more authentic taste, then, Cocchi is the better choice.
  • In a pinch, dry vermouth will do just fine as a Lillet substitute.
  • One version of the abbey cocktail is a little simpler, but it's equally fantastic. To make this drink, shake 2 ounces of gin, 1 1/2 ounces of orange juice, and two dashes of orange bitters.
  • If you pour gin, orange juice, and sweet vermouth in equal amounts, you have a wonderful 1930s cocktail called the orange blossom. That recipe is also sometimes called an abbey cocktail.

How Strong Is an Abbey Cocktail?

The abbey cocktail falls within a range that's typical of martinis made with fruit juice. When made with the average 80-proof gin, its alcohol content is 20 percent ABV (40 proof) or so. That's not a light drink and twice as potent as a glass of wine.

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