Waldorf Cocktail

Classic Waldorf Cocktail

Rob Palmer / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
188 Calories
0g Fat
3g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 188
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 22mg 0%
*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 Waldorf Cocktail was one of the signature drinks from the Waldorf-Astoria Bar at the beginning of the 20th century and it remains a fantastic cocktail. If you are looking for a great drink with classic style, this is a perfect option.

Think of this as a rye whiskey Manhattan with a hint of absinthe. This little addition adds dimension to the drink and the anise is the most interesting contrast against the sweetened whiskey background.

In "The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book," A.S. Crockett calls for equal parts of whiskey, vermouth, and absinthe. That is a lot of absinthe and probably too much for modern tastes. Over the years, the ratios have been adapted to those below. However, if you are adventurous, give the original one a try.

In the recipe, I have taken it even further and used the absinthe as a rinse that gently coats the glass. This is a nice way to get the most gentle of anise flavors into the drink and is used in other classics like the Monkey Gland.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Pour the absinthe into a chilled cocktail glass, swirl it around to coat the sides, then toss any excess. (You can also rinse the mixing glass before this next step.)

  3. Pour the whiskey and vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice.

  4. Stir for 30 seconds.

  5. Strain into the rinsed glass.

  6. Serve and enjoy.

Which Whiskey Should You Use?

Rye whiskey is typically used in the Waldorf Cocktail though there was a time when good ryes were extremely rare. That led many bartenders to do as they did in other whiskey cocktails and turn to bourbon. Either is a nice choice, though now that rye is making a big comeback, you should consider getting a taste of the original.

There are a number of rye whiskeys to choose from and almost any on the market will be excellent in the Waldorf. Whiskey made from rye is considerably spicier than other styles and it may not be for everyone. They certainly are among the most flavorful whiskeys, yet a good bourbon can stand up just as well in this cocktail. 

No matter which style of whiskey you choose for the Waldorf Cocktail, make it a good one with full-body flavor. Softer whiskeys will not stand up to even a hint of absinthe and this is a cocktail that requires you bring out the best you have in stock.

How Strong Is the Waldorf Cocktail?

Many of the whiskeys we've discussed exceed a bottling strength above the standard 80-proof. A higher alcohol content often means more flavor and these will do much better in the Waldorf Cocktail.

For that reason, let's estimate the drink's strength using a 100-proof whiskey. In this case, the cocktail will weigh in right around 35 percent ABV (70 proof), which in no way is considered a light drink. Take it easy with this one and enjoy.