The Napoleon cocktail is a classic drink recipe that is simple, lovely, and adds a nice touch to an elegant dinner. It's reminiscent of the gin martini, though it skips the vermouth. Instead, it relies on Dubonnet Rouge, a red wine apèritif that's slightly sweet, gently bitter, and flavored with quinine and spices.
While it is delicious all on its own, mixing Dubonnet with gin and Grand Mariner offers a fabulous taste experience. The soft hint of sweet orange from Grand Marnier adds balance and versatility to this cocktail. Not only is it a great before dinner drink, but it can also pair well with any course within a meal, and even has a sweetness that makes it work well for dessert.
Gather the ingredients.
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.
Serve and enjoy!
- As with all martini-style of drinks, this one deserves a top-shelf gin. Dry gins with a traditional juniper-forward profile will likely work best because some of the softer gins will get lost behind the Dubonnet.
- Orange curaçao is commonly used in the Napleon, but you need to ensure its quality rivals that of Grand Marnier for the best tasting drink. Many of the inexpensive brands of this orange liqueur will not do the drink justice. Pay a little extra for brands like Pierre Ferrand or Senior Curaçao of Curaçao and you will not be disappointed.
- Blue (or green) curaçao are not a good substitute in this cocktail. The colored versions of the orange liqueur are more of a novelty and often not of the quality that the Napoleon deserves.
- If you do not have a pre-chilled cocktail glass available, give it a quick chill while mixing up the drink. Place a few ice cubes in the glass then discard them before straining.
- There are a few renditions of the Napoleon beyond the curaçao option that are worth exploring. Among those are recipes that cut the Grand Marnier and Dubonnet almost in third, using just 1/2 teaspoon of each. This might be a good solution for certain gins.
- Another common variation combines 1 1/2 ounces of gin with 1/2 ounce Dubonnet and 2 dashes each of curaçao and Fernet Branca. The last ingredient is a uniquely flavored Italian bitter digestif that can be an acquired taste but will add an intriguing twist to the mix.
- When you skip the orange liqueur, you have the original Dubonnet cocktail. It's another fantastic drink to showcase the apèritif's perfect pairing with a really nice gin.
How Strong Is a Napoleon Cocktail?
As with most martinis, the Napoleon cocktail is not a light drink. It should mix up to have an alcohol content around 33 percent ABV (66 proof), making it just slightly softer than if you were to drink an 80-proof gin straight.