Dubonnet Cocktail

Dubonnet cocktail in a glass with a lemon twist

The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
110 Calories
0g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 110
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 137mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 30mg 1%
*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 now 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 but makes an ideal aperitif. Be sure to serve it at your next dinner party.

"This is another fantastic cocktail that was born in the origins of the Martini, as the first Martini was made with Italian (sweet) vermouth. Very similar to the Martinez cocktail, with a few more rich notes such as coffee and dark fruit, the Dubonnet cocktail is perfect for a sunny afternoon or an aperitif cocktail." —Sean Johnson

Dubonnet cocktail in a glass with a lemon twist
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Dubonnet cocktail gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

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

    Dubonnet cocktail ingredients pouring into a mixing glass with ice cubes

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Stir well.

    Dubonnet cocktail ingredients stirred in a mixing glass

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

    Dubonnet cocktail ingredients straining into a chilled cocktail glass

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  5. Garnish with the lemon twist. Serve and enjoy.

    Dubonnet cocktail garnished with a lemon twist

    The Spruce Eats / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Recipe Variation

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 bitter quinine (the key ingredient in tonic water, which was created to fight off disease) 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."​

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. The second variety, Dubonnet Blanc, is made with a white wine base, is the drier of the two, and is similar to dry vermouth. 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 straining, 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, and it's likely this won't be your last drink of the meal.