Icon of an Emperor

We're starting today's blog post with a bit of a history lesson. For those of you history buffs out there, listen up!

On this day in 1812, a turning point occurred during the Napoleonic Wars as Napoléon himself led the campaign to invade Russia, later crippling his army. Perhaps just remaining at home, drinking his mandarin orange liqueur, would have been the wiser choice. Oh, how hindsight is a beautiful thing...

I was reminded of this event in world history upon reading The Daily Sip email yesterday from Bottlenotes, a fantastic resource in the wine community online. The Daily Sip editors steered away from wine for an afternoon and decided to look at cocktails instead - more specifically they reviewed the Napoléon Cocktail.

What surprises me about the two versions of the Napoléon Cocktail that I have found adapted online is that while both recipes call for either Grand Marnier or Cointreau in some regards, neither recipe mentions Mandarine Napoléon as the orange liqueur of choice in the recipe. Seems somewhat surprising to me given that the spirit is in fact the product of Napoléon working with a chemist, Fourcroy, in the early 19th century to develop a liqueur of a cognac base with the maceration of mandarin oranges otherwise known as tangerines.

Perhaps Mr. Craddock, author of the Savoy Cocktail Book didn't have access to Mandarine Napoléon even though the recipe was commercialized and bottled starting in 1892, before Savoy was released. So today, over 200 years later, I will repost the Napoléon Cocktail recipe here, along with another lovely Mandarine-Dubonnet combination cocktail adapted by PDT's Jim Meehan. Give both cocktail recipes a try this weekend!


Napoléon Cocktail
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz Grand Mariner (or might I suggest Mandarine Napoléon)
  • 1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Napoléon's Opera (pictured above)
  • 2 oz Beefeater Gin
  • 3/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge
  • 1/2 oz Mandarine Napoléon
  • 1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an orange twist (adapted by Jacques Straub, Drinks, 1914).

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