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.
Gather the ingredients.
In a mixing glass, add the rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, amaro, and orange bitters. Fill with ice.
Stir well, for at least 30 seconds.
Garnish with a lemon twist.
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.
- 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.