April brings both the Oscar awards and the birthday of film favorite Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (born April 16, 1889). What better way to celebrate than with the Charlie Chaplin Cocktail?
It combines sloe gin, apricot brandy, and fresh lime juice in a sprightly mix that shouts spring. Show-stopping flavor, you might say.
Get the popcorn ready.
The Charlie Chaplin requires equal amounts of sloe gin, apricot brandy, and freshly squeezed lime juice. Sounds like an unlikely combination, but it works. It’s a bit on the sweet side, though – so a salty snack like popcorn would be a welcome accompaniment (salt helps counterbalance the sweetness).
It’s traditional to serve this drink “up” in a cocktail glass, but we think it works better on the rocks. Melting ice tempers the potentially cloying flavor of the apricot brandy.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.
- 1 ounce sloe gin (see Notes)
- 1 ounce apricot brandy (or liqueur – see Notes)
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- lime slice or wedge for garnish (very optional)
- Combine all the ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the contents are well chilled.
- Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that has been chilled) or a rocks (Old-Fashioned) glass filled with ice. Add garnish, if desired, and serve
- Garnish is not traditional for this drink. But we think a little extra lime is nice.
- Even if you’re serving this drink on the rocks, it’s a good idea to shake it with ice first, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Why not just add all the ingredients together, stir, and pour over ice? Well, shaking combines the ingredients better (particularly when one of those ingredients is citrus juice). And more importantly, shaking with ice chills the ingredients, so the ice in the glass will melt more slowly. Which means it won’t dilute the flavor of the drink as quickly.
- Sloe gin (despite its sketchy reputation) can be quite tasty – as long as you stay away from cheap brands. So don’t buy something that costs $10 or $15 a bottle (it will be way too sweet). Our favorite brands are Plymouth and Bitter Truth. We’ve also heard good things about Hayman’s, but haven’t tried that yet.
- True apricot brandy – that is, brandy distilled from apricot juice – can be hard to find. You’re more likely to see apricot liqueurs. But those actually work better for cocktails, so no worries.
- So, which brand of apricot liqueur to buy? Higher-end brands (like Rothman & Winter or Marie Brizard Apry) would work well. But for occasional cocktail use, we tend to opt for Hiram Walker (in the US, you can find this brand in any liquor store, and it’s less expensive). Be aware that Hiram Walker is on the sweet side, though. If you find yourself making a lot of cocktails that require apricot brandy/liqueur, we suggest stepping up to one of the better brands.
- Our usual disclaimer: We’re non-commercial hobby bloggers and don’t accept compensation for mentioning products. We recommend only brands that we like and buy with our own money.
- Because of its sweetness, the Charlie Chaplin Cocktail works well as an afternoon sipper, but less well as a before-dinner drink. We think it would pair nicely with many Polynesian- or Asian-themed dishes.
- Charlie Chaplin was an English actor who did his much of his work during the silent film era. His iconic character, “The Tramp,” is still instantly identifiable. In addition to acting, Chaplin wrote, directed, and produced many films (and even composed music for some of them).
- So how did the Charlie Chaplin Cocktail come to be? It was invented in New York at the Waldorf Astoria hotel bar sometime prior to 1920 (at a time when Chaplin was reaching the height of his fame). But that’s about all we know of the drink’s origins.
- There have been several different formulations of this drink over the years – including some with added sugar (shudder). But we think using equal parts of the three main ingredients makes for a balanced cocktail.
“Mmm,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “Sweet but not too sweet.”
“Well, I pride myself on avoiding the classic errors,” I said. “Not like some other bloggers.”
“True,” said Mrs K R. “You have an eye for the obvious. But you know what Charlie Chaplin said about comedy?”
“What would that be, my little film critic?” I said.
“That it’s sort of funny when someone slips on a banana peel,” said Mrs K R. “But even funnier when the person steps over the banana peel, congratulates himself, then disappears down an open manhole.”
Of course, that would never happen to me.
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Ha. Nice anecdote. I have totally forgotten about the Oscars this year which is so NOT me....Thanks for the reminder and for this excellent cocktail to sip while I watch. Hopefully, not everyone will be in little Zoom boxes.
Hi Debra, this is a fun drink -- nice flavor, and SO appropriate for Oscar watching. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I’m a big fan of Charlie Chaplin — favorite of his films: Modern Times. Not such a fan of cocktails — my drink of choice is wine.
be safe... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, Modern Times is wonderful! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I haven't heard (or tried) of Charlie Chaplin Cocktail, but the combination of spirits sounds pretty good to me. I am especially intrigued by apricot brandy which I've never had. And the colour is spectacular!
Hi Ben, it's a fun drink! Really nice flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have never heard of this cocktail, but I love how it looks and how you photographed it. The lighting and colour are perfect, John.
This sounds delicious. If I drink it, do I have to wear a derby and walk funny?
The apricot brandy sounds amazing!
Hi Angie, this isn't much known these days, alas, but it's worth getting to know. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anne, drink too many of these and you WILL walk funny! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, apricot brandy is definitely worth getting to know. :-) Thanks for the comment.
"Not too sweet" is right up our cocktail alley, John. I've never heard of the Charlie Chaplin cocktail before, but this one sounds perfect!
Hi Terry, a lot of cocktails from the early 1920s have fallen off the radar, alas. This one shouldn't, though. Thanks for the comment.
After reading the closing conversation between you two, I had the thought that perfect night would be sipping on these cocktail while watching a Charlie Chaplin movie. Of course it could become dangerous if you start laughing too much which is standard for any of her movies. :)
Hi MJ, we haven't seen a Charlie Chaplin move in a long time -- should probably make a popcorn evening of it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
oh i like that chaplin quote. love your photos as always. and apricot brandy? i haven't had that since i was a kid. Mum used to be into the brandies - i remember banana brandy with a shudder ... :)
Hi Sherry, have never had banana brandy. Not sure I want to. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I live in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, which in Charlie Chaplin's day was the entertainment district. In fact, the building that now houses my condo was once a hotel, where Chaplin and his guests would stay when making films at his Essanay studio, which is just a few blocks away (until he, like everyone, realized that film making in a Chicago winter was for the birds, and moved to California), I should make this my house drink!
Hi Jeff, that's a nice neighborhood. This would be a fitting house drink for you! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh that sounds fabulous with apricot brandy. I have to get some of that ;)
Hi Pat and Dahn, it's got really nice flavor -- worth trying. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Another gorgeous cocktail and although I prefer cocktails in a martini glass, this twisty one is pretty cool. Love the lime in this too, the colour is spectacular!
Hi Eva, we prefer cocktails in a cocktail glass, too, but this one really does taste better in a rocks glass. Besides, it's fun to change things up from time to time! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, cheers! :-) And thanks for the comment.
I love Charlie Chaplin. And I love afternoon sippers. And I have the popcorn ready. Sounds great John!
Hi R, yup! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, sounds like you're all set! :-) Thanks for the comment.
For the Oscars this year, I bet there is going to be a restricted audience, so maybe there won't be any gawking at fancy dresses, etc? So maybe it won't be so much fun this year. I think I'll instead go and drink your cocktail- sounds delicious!
Hi Fran, haven't heard what the actual ceremony will be like this year. But drinking one of these should definitely be in the plans. :-) Thanks for the comment.
She is a beauty, John! Feeling like this weekend can't come soon enough. Hope you and Ms. Riff are staying well. Take Care
Love the story behind this pretty drink, John! Charlie Chaplin and the Tramp are so iconic, indeed. I need to get a cocktail shaker as we have been experimenting with more and more cocktails lately. We will have to give this a try sometime! I know exactly where to come for the best drink recipes when we want to try something special. :)
Hi Bobbi, weekends can never come soon enough! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Marcelle, this will be a fun drink for you to try -- really nice flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is my kind of cocktail. Prost !
Hi Gerlinde, it's a good one. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Ohh My God! this looks really very refreshing and happy drink. In love with your picture.
Hi Balvinder, very refreshing. Very. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm also a fan of Mr. Chaplin. But as a fan, I'm embarrassed to say that I've never experienced the cocktail. We have a bottle of De Kuyper Apricot Brandy collecting dust in the cabinet and a bottle of homemade sloe gin gifted to us this past Christmas, so Charlie Chaplin cocktail here we come...
Chaplin was such a genius of a comedy, love his movies and that coctail looks great!
Love that brilliant colour! Such gorgeous shots!
An elegant drink! I've always wanted to host an Oscars party but it the middle of the night around here. I miss proper movies so much.
Hi Ron, you're good to go! :-) This won't be your favorite cocktail, but it's a nice change of pace. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Taruna, the colors are one of the best things about cocktails! Well, flavor too, but not everyone drinks -- but everyone can look at them. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amalia, we haven't seen a movie (in a theater) for well over a year. It'll be la novelty when we can go again. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Natalia, Chaplin was most definitely a movie genius! And this cocktail is a fitting tribute to him. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Any cocktail that pairs exceedingly well with popcorn is a winner in my book! I'm thinking since it's a cocktail on the sweet side, a dash of furikake on the popcorn would be ideal, too.
Hi Carolyn, that's a great idea! Bet it'd be awesome. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Bring on the salty snack because I'm going to have two of these. GREG
Hi Greg, two is the perfect number. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a beauty! Your cocktails always look so tasty.
Hi Pam, they are tasty! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Have I mentioned I'm a popcorn addict? I would love one of these cocktails with a giant bowl of popcorn! I also love the idea of pairing this with Polynesian dishes.
Hi Lisa, popcorn is good stuff, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Havent tried this but if you say its sweet then count me in. Popcorn is a good pair or even pork cracklings
Hi Raymund, definitely more sweet than not. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Your photos are beautiful! I'd love to try this!
Hi Inger, it's a fun drink -- really nice flavor. Thanks for the comment.
This is one my sister-on-law will love - but she just doesn't have his mustache!
Hi David, :-) Thanks for the comment.
fabulous photos as ever KR! apricot brandy? hmmm brings back memories of childhood. our mother was quite keen on feeding us such things... odd perhaps?:-)
Hi Sherry, perhaps. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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