Dubonnet Cocktail

Dubonnet Cocktail

The Spruce 

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
181 Calories
2g Fat
9g Carbs
9g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 12mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Protein 9g
Calcium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Dubonnet cocktail is designed to showcase the finest gin you have in the liquor cabinet. Originally an un-garnished cocktail from the 1930s, the Dubonnet cocktail is often served with a twist of lemon and sometimes an orange peel.

Essentially, this cocktail replaces the dry vermouth of a classic gin martini with Dubonnet Rouge, which is a fortified wine with quinine. Dubonnet Rouge is rich and slightly sweeter than the average sweet vermouth.

The Dubonnet cocktail is said to be a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II and her mother, who preferred it served on the rocks. It has fallen into obscurity in recent years, yet that makes it no less appealing.

This cocktail is also known as the Zaza, after the character in a 1915 silent film. The Dubonnet cocktail makes an ideal aperitif. Be sure to serve it at your next dinner party.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.

  3. Stir well.

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

  5. Garnish with the lemon twist.

  6. Serve and enjoy!

If you were to switch the proportions of the two ingredients and use 1 1/2 ounces Dubonnet to 3/4 ounce gin, you would have a cocktail called the Queen Mother. It is another tribute to the royal family.

What Is Dubonnet?

Dubonnet is a brand name for a very specific aperitif wine that originated in France. It was created in 1846 by Joseph Dubonnet, a chemist and wine merchant from Paris.

Dubonnet designed his fortified wine to help make quinine more palatable to French soldiers battling malaria in North Africa. The result was Dubonnet Rouge, which is "a proprietary blend of herbs, spices, and peels."​ Quinine is also the key ingredient in tonic water, which was also created to fight off disease. Quinine brings in the bitter, dry taste present in both tonic and Dubonnet.

Dubonnet comes in two varieties and Dubonnet Rouge is the more common of the two. It has a red wine base and is rich and semi-sweet. Some drinkers find notes of orange, nuts, chocolate, and coffee in the taste. Dubonnet Blanc is similar to dry vermouth and is the drier of the two. It is made with a white wine base.

Either variety of Dubonnet can be served on its own when well-chilled or as a spritzer when topped with sparkling water or club soda. You can also use them in any cocktail that calls for vermouth. It is produced and bottled in the United States, a product of Heaven Hills Brands. It is 19 percent alcohol by volume (38 proof).

How Strong Is the Dubonnet Cocktail?

Notice that the Dubonnet cocktail is a very small drink. After stirring, you will only have about 2 1/2 ounces to pour into your glass. It was designed that way because it is a potent little beverage, weighing in at around 29 percent ABV (58 proof).

Aperitifs of this strength are typically short because you don't want to be tipsy before the first course arrives. Besides, it's likely this won't be your last drink of the meal.