Knickerbocker Cocktail

Knickerbocker Cocktail

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
278 Calories
0g Fat
29g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 278
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 15g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 29mg 147%
Calcium 29mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 112mg 2%
*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 Knickerbocker is a classic cocktail from the mid-1800s that features rum and raspberries. It's a genuine New York City drink that takes on the nickname of the city's Dutch settlers who wore their pants—knickers—rolled up just below the knee. 

This is a fantastic summer drink that is absolutely delicious. It has a darker fruit profile than many rum cocktails and a perfect balance of sweetness.

The raspberry syrup is the key to the drink's success. The best Knickerbocker is made with a homemade raspberry syrup using freshly pressed, strained juice. You can also use raspberry syrups from brands like DaVinci, Monin, or Torani or use liqueurs like Chambord as a substitute.

Traditionally, the drink is served in an old-fashioned glass over crushed ice. It makes a fabulous "martini" as well. Simply shake it and strain it into a chilled cocktail glass.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the rum, orange curaçao, lime (or lemon) juice, and raspberry syrup.

  3. Shake well.

  4. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.

  5. Garnish with a lime or lemon wedge and seasonal berries. Serve and enjoy.


  • Depending on the raspberry syrup you use, you may want to make adjustments to the fruit ingredients to suit your taste. If it's not sweet enough, add more syrup; too sweet, add a bit more citrus juice. The orange liqueur pour is generally pretty small, with some recipes using only 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Originally, the Knickerbocker recipe used Santa Cruz rum from St. Croix. Cocktail historian, David Wondrich, suggests in Esquire that any modern "medium-bodied gold rum" will be a good substitute.
  • The popular white rums of today will make a good drink, but the gold rums will give the drink more depth.

The History of the Knickerbocker

The Knickerbocker name has been used to describe some New Yorkers. According to Wondrich, it often refers to those of Dutch descent who enjoyed a bit more of a party than the more reserved "Yankees."

In 1806, Washington Irving wrote a satirical book about the city's culture during the time under the pen name, Diedrich Knickerbocker. The name has stuck around and was picked up by the New York Knicks as well as a number of establishments in the city, including the five-star Knickerbocker Hotel.

The Knickerbocker cocktail recipe appeared in the first bartending guide, Jerry Thomas' 1862 "Bon Vivant's Companion." It is not known who created it or where, though there are many claims to its invention.

According to drink expert, Simon Difford of Difford's Guide, there were a number of variations of the Knickerbocker around the turn of the 20th century. Two of those appeared in Harry Craddock's "Savoy Cocktail Book" from 1930.

One—the Knicker-bocker special cocktail—added a slice of pineapple and orange to the raspberry rum mix and served it straight up. It's a great drink and one you may want to try for yourself. The other—Knicker-bocker cocktail—is little more than a shaken perfect martini with just a dash of sweet vermouth.

How Strong Is a Knickerbocker?

The Knickerbocker may have a sweet, fruity taste, but it certainly packs a punch (something its namesakes likely would have enjoyed). On average, its alcohol content is 25 percent ABV (50 proof), which is typical of classic cocktails of this style.

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