The Liberal Cocktail

The Liberal Cocktail, A Classic Rye Whiskey Drink
Rick Rhay/Getty Images
Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
155 Calories
0g Fat
7g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 155
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 27mg 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.)

An often forgotten classic, the liberal cocktail is a perfect dinner drink that deserves to be revived. It dates to the early 1900s and has been adapted many times over the last century.

The liberal cocktail is made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and an amaro liqueur, most commonly Amer Picon or Amer Torani. The variations primarily differ in the ratio of those three ingredients. This recipe has been adapted to modern tastes and is not as sweet as the original. Additionally, just like with the Manhattan, during the years when rye whiskey was not as plentiful (or good) as it has been recently, it was very common to pour bourbon instead.

Explore the various options and customize the proportions to fit your taste. Once you find that perfect mix, you'll discover why this drink has captivated drinkers of fine cocktails for so many years.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a mixing glass, add the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, amaro, and orange bitters. Fill with ice.

  3. Stir well, for at least 30 seconds.

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

  5. Garnish with a lemon twist.

  6. Serve and enjoy.


  • Top-shelf whiskey is definitely going to make a better liberal cocktail. Whether you choose rye or bourbon, be sure to pour a premium brand so the drink has a quality foundation.
  • No matter which sweet vermouth you choose, make sure that it's fresh. Fortified wine has a much shorter shelf life than distilled spirits; three months is the recommended limit for an open bottle before it begins to go stale.

Recipe Variations

  • Apparently, the original liberal cocktail recipe poured equal parts (3/4 ounce) of each of the three main ingredients. Over the years, people found this version to be too sweet, so it was reformulated to the ratio in the recipe above.
  • Still another ratio pours equal parts of whiskey and sweet vermouth (3/4 ounce each) with a few dashes of amaro. This also seems to be a modern twist.
  • In one variation from the early 1900s, a few dashes of absinthe is added to the recipe that uses equal proportions. In another, the vermouth is left out entirely and a dash of simple syrup is added instead.
  • A popular variation is called the Cuban liberal cocktail. For this one, pour white rum instead of whiskey. It's also commonly garnished with an orange twist.

How Strong Is the Liberal Cocktail?

Like most drinks of this style, the liberal cocktail is a pretty strong drink. Though you might pour something stronger (it's not a bad idea), when made with 80 proof whiskey, it mixes up to an alcohol content of 24 percent ABV (48 proof) or so. That's just over half the strength of a straight shot of the whiskey.