Monkey Gland Cocktail

Monkey Gland Cocktail Recipe

 The Spruce

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
179 Calories
0g Fat
12g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 179
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 26mg 128%
Calcium 11mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 94mg 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.)

Of all the drinks in the world, the monkey gland can quickly become a favorite. It's a little tricky, but if you get the balance of flavor right, this unusually named cocktail is phenomenal.

The sweetened combination of gin, orange juice, and grenadine makes a really nice drink. Yet, it's only with the hint of absinthe that it becomes really fascinating. Most recipes for the monkey gland suggest adding a splash of absinthe or one of its many substitutes to the shaker, but there's something to the subtlety of rinsing the glass. This creates a nice, fruity cocktail with the slightest taste of anise as contrast and an intoxicating aroma.

"The Monkey Gland is one of those forgotten classics that deserves more time in the sun. Gin is an herbaceous base that holds the orange juice and grenadine tight. However, it is a tenuous hold and can come apart with over dilution so do not over shake." —Sean Johnson

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1 dash absinthe

  • 2 ounces gin

  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons grenadine, to taste

  • Orange slice, or flamed orange peel, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Monkey Gland Cocktail Recipe ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Swirl a dash of absinthe in a chilled cocktail glass to coat it, then discard any excess liqueur.

    Monkey Gland Cocktail Recipe
     The Spruce
  3. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes, pour the gin, orange juice, and grenadine.

    Monkey Gland Cocktail Recipe
     The Spruce
  4. Shake well.

    Monkey Gland Cocktail Recipe
     The Spruce
  5. Strain into the prepared glass.

    Monkey Gland Cocktail Recipe
     The Spruce
  6. Garnish with an orange slice or a flamed orange peel. Serve and enjoy.

    Monkey Gland Cocktail Recipe
     The Spruce


  • London dry gin is the preferred style for the monkey gland.
  • Fresh-squeezed orange juice is highly recommended. The average orange should yield enough juice for two to three drinks.
  • If you're making a single monkey gland, juice half the orange and use the other half for the orange slice garnish.
  • When opting for the orange peel, cut it from the whole fruit before juicing. Use a pairing knife to cut a thick strip about 2 inches long. To flame it, hold the peel over the glass, light a match, and gently express the oils through the flame and into the drink; you'll see little sparks.

Recipe Variation

  • The monkey gland appears in numerous 20th-century bartending guides, and each has subtle differences. Some use just a dash or two of grenadine or a little more orange juice, and many recommend shaking the drink with cracked ice. You might find these adjustments a better fit as you explore different styles and brands of gin.
  • During the time that absinthe was illegal in the U.S., many bartenders learned to make this drink with Bénédictine. It is an excellent drink as well, though it has an entirely different profile.

Who Created the Monkey Gland Cocktail?

In his 1922 "Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails" book, Harry MacElhone took credit for the monkey gland's invention. MacElhone was one of the many American bartenders who left during Prohibition. He ran Harry's New York Bar in Paris, France, where he created numerous famous cocktails, including the French 75 and bloody mary. His bartending guides are a fantastic reference for classic cocktail recipes.

Why Is It Called the Monkey Gland?

MacElhone claimed that the experiments of Dr. Serge Voronoff inspired the name. In the 1920s, the surgeon focused on male enhancement treatments, the most famous of which involved grafting monkey testicle tissue (or monkey glands) to human testicles. Voronoff became well-known for this rather shocking technique and received a considerable amount of ridicule. He died in near obscurity in the 1950s. His boldness lives on in the name of this cocktail as well as monkey gland sauce, which was reportedly created by French chefs working in South Africa.

How Strong Is a Monkey Gland?

The monkey gland is a stiff drink. On average, its alcohol content should fall around 22 percent ABV (44 proof). That's about the same as a cosmopolitan, though this drink promises to be a lot more fun.