Elegant black-tie flavor without all the fuss
Holiday parties are beckoning. You’ll need something formal, of course.
The Tuxedo Cocktail is here to help. This martini variant has deep flavor and sophisticated good looks. But you can make it in a snap.
It’s a great drink any time, but we particularly like to sip it before dinner.
Which makes the Tuxedo perfect for your next soirée. Black tie optional.
Recipe: The Tuxedo Cocktail
The Tuxedo Cocktail – like the tuxedo dinner jacket – is named after the Tuxedo Club, a private country club located in Tuxedo Park, New York. There are several versions of the drink, but they’re all based on the Dry Martini.
We prefer the version that substitutes dry sherry for dry vermouth, so that’s the one we’re posting about here. We use cocktail extraordinaire David Wondrich’s formula. But there’s another popular version that we discuss in the Notes.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 2 ounces dry gin (see Notes)
- ¾ to 1 ounce dry sherry (to taste; see Notes)
- 1 dash orange bitters (or two, if you prefer)
- garnish of lemon twist (optional; may substitute orange twist)
- Add all ingredients (except garnish) to a cocktail mixing glass half-filled with ice. Stir briskly until the contents are well chilled (about 30 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe, preferably one that has been chilled. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired, and serve.
- Why stir this drink? Because the ingredients are clear. Shaking introduces small bubbles, which can temporarily cloud the drink. Not a problem when some of the ingredients are opaque (like citrus juice). But when the ingredients are clear, bubbles can make the drink less attractive.
- This is a rule we break all the time, though, so shake away if you prefer. The drink will taste just as good. And the cloudiness will dissipate in a few minutes.
- Don’t have sherry on hand? You may want to try another version of this drink (a version that may in fact be more common than the one we prefer): Use 2 ounces of dry gin, 1 ounce dry vermouth, ¼ teaspoon maraschino liqueur, and 1/8 teaspoon of absinthe or pastis (like Pernod). Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
- That said, if you don’t have sherry on hand, you really should acquire some. It’s great as an apéritif, and is a necessary ingredient in several cocktails besides the Tuxedo (like The Sherry Cobbler and The Bamboo Cocktail).
- For cocktails, it’s best to use dry sherry. A fino, which has very pale color, is ideal. Amontillado, which is darker, would also be a good choice. But avoid cream sherry, which is way too sweet.
- Some sherries have rather assertive flavor, so you may want to vary the amount you include in this drink. We recommend starting with 1 ounce. But if the flavor is too overwhelming, dial that back to ¾ ounce.
- Sherry originated in the Cádiz province of Spain (specifically, around the town of Jerez de la Frontera). This region has produced wine for over 3000 years. Sherry was developed after Moorish invaders introduced distillation to the area, probably sometime during the 8th century. The best sherry still comes from Spain.
- Although you can spend big bucks on a bottle of sherry, for cocktails something that costs around $15 should be fine.
- Almost any gin you’re likely to find in a liquor store is “dry” gin (as opposed to sweetened gin like Old Tom – which is the only brand of non-dry gin you’re likely to see). If in doubt about which brand to buy, ask the friendly folks at the shop.
- Don’t substitute Angostura bitters for orange bitters – the flavor is all wrong. Most liquor stores carry orange bitters, or you can order them online. Our favorite brand is Regan’s, but other good brands are available.
- BTW, next time you make a classic martini, add a dash or two of orange bitters to it. The drink was originally made with bitters (they fell out of favor in the 1930s), and they add a nice flavor hit.
- The Tuxedo Club is a private country club located in Tuxedo Park, a village in the Ramapo Mountains not far from New York City (or Jersey City, for that matter). It was founded in 1886.
- The Tuxedo Cocktail became the club’s signature drink, although no one quite knows when the drink was developed.
- We do know, however, that the tuxedo dinner jacket – also named after the club – first appeared shortly after the club opened. It was inspired by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), who had started wearing dinner jackets with short tails while in the country (rather than the long-tailed coats that were de rigueur at dinner tables in England during the 19th century). At the Tuxedo Club’s first autumn ball in 1886, some young dandies showed up in tailless coats, aping the Prince of Wales.
- The fashion caught on, and over time the tuxedo largely replaced the long-tailed formal dinner jacket at all except the fanciest occasions.
- BTW, the tuxedo is normally worn with a black bow tie, while the long-tailed jacket is paired with a white bow tie. That’s why “white tie” events are considered more formal than “black tie.”
“Elegant drink,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “Rather dressy.”
“Sophisticated, but not stuffy,” I said. “No white-tie formality here.”
“Indeed,” said Mrs K R. “The tuxedo was considered scandalously informal when it was adopted.”
“Inspired in the 1880s by that notorious bon vivant, Albert Edward, then Prince of Wales,” I said.
“Who inspired more than dinner dress, apparently,” said Mrs K R. “He liked to frequent a fabled Parisian bordello called Le Chabanais.”
“Home of a champagne-filled bathtub,” I said. “One that was equipped with a handy love seat.”
“Glad that didn’t catch on for formal events,” said Mrs K R.
Agreed. Wouldn’t want to splash bubbly on my bow tie.
You may also enjoy reading about:
The Sherry Cobbler
The Bamboo Cocktail
The Atty Cocktail
Pegu Club Cocktail
Or check out the index for more