Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Knickerbocker Cocktail

The Knickerbocker Cocktail
This 19th century drink is kinda, sorta like a raspberry daiquiri

Amber rum, lime juice, and sweetener (in the form of raspberry syrup)? Sounds a lot like a raspberry daiquiri to us. Add a dash of orange curaçao, and you’ve got the Knickerbocker.

It’s one of the older cocktails on record, dating back at least to the 1860s.

And still good after all these years. 

The Knickerbocker Cocktail
Recipe: The Knickerbocker Cocktail

We love the combo of rum and lime juice. Which is why the Classic Daiquiri – with a crisp flavor that’s on the dry side – is one of our favorite cocktails.

But the classic daiquiri uses white rum, while this drink requires amber rum (along with berry and orange flavoring). So the Knickerbocker’s flavor is more complex (and also a bit sweeter). It’s a drink that invites lingering over. That’s why we think it’s better served over ice rather than straight up.

This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.

Ingredients   

  • 2 ounces aged amber rum (see Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (or other orange curaçao; see Notes)
  • 2 teaspoons raspberry simple syrup (see Notes; may substitute Chambord) 
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • garnish of raspberries (or other berries of choice; see Notes)

Procedure 

  1. Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake briskly until the contents are well chilled (20 seconds or more).
  2. Pour unstrained (but see Notes) into a rocks (old fashioned) glass. Garnish, if you wish, and serve.

The Knickerbocker Cocktail
Notes

  • It’s traditional to serve this drink unstrained. But we often strain it over fresh ice. Your choice.
  • Raspberries are the obvious garnish for this drink, but any fresh berry in season will work. An orange twist would also be good. Or just skip the garnish entirely – we often do.
  • BTW, the original garnish for this drink was the hull of a squeezed-out lime half, dropped into the glass. This is a garnish we now sometimes see in Tiki drinks. Cocktail historian extraordinaire David Wondrich notes that a recipe for the Knickerbocker provided the first written record of a drink using this garnish.
  • The original Knickerbocker probably used an aged amber rum, most likely from St. Croix. So Cruzan amber rum would be a good (and not too expensive) choice for this drink. But almost any decent amber rum will work. 
  • We would suggest using an amber rum with light to medium body (we like funkier rums, but don’t think they’d work well in this drink).
  • Grand Marnier is a premium orange curaçao – and we use it in this drink simply because it’s the only orange curaçao we keep on hand. But any good-quality orange curaçao will work. (We don’t recommend using a triple sec like Cointreau – it’s a bit drier than orange curaçao, and has a slightly different flavor profile.)
  • If you don’t have raspberry simple syrup on hand, you can substitute a raspberry liqueur like Chambord. 
  • But it’s easy to make your own raspberry syrup: Use 2 parts sugar to 1 part water to 1 part raspberries (fresh or frozen). Place 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan and add ½ cup water. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add ½ cup raspberries (rinse them first if you’re using fresh). Stir with a wooden spoon until the raspberries form a pulp. Simmer for several minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. Then pour the mixture through a strainer, pressing lightly to extract the juice (don’t press too hard, or the mixture could turn cloudy). Pour the syrup into a glass container or a plastic squeeze bottle, then refrigerate. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks at least.
  • Our usual disclaimer: We’re noncommercial, and don’t receive compensation when we mention brands. We suggest only what we like and buy with our own money.
  • So when and where did this drink originate? We don’t know, alas. But “knickerbocker” was a 19th century nickname for someone from New York City (particularly the borough of Manhattan). This handle probably derived from Washington Irving’s 1809 book A History of New York, written under the pen name “Diedrich Knickerbocker.” 
  • So it seems likely that the drink was invented in NYC sometime during the 19th century. A recipe for the Knickerbocker Cocktail first appeared in Jerry Thomas’s Bar-Tender’s Guide, published in 1862 (this was the first cocktail guide published in the US). Thomas worked in many parts of the United States, but most of his career was spent in New York.

The Knickerbocker Cocktail
Rummies

“Love this drink,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Looks great, tastes better.”

“That’s pretty much the Rule of Rum when it comes to drinks,” I said.

“That almost made sense,” said Mrs K R. “Rum thing.”

“Hey, are you giving me the raspberry?” I said.

“Never, my dear boy,” said Mrs K R. “Would I knick your bock?”

Think she’s ready to rumble.

You may also enjoy reading about:

66 comments:

  1. I can’t wait to try this drink, John. If I can get myself some Chambord today, I may toss these together for drinks this evening. (I’m entertaining right after work, otherwise I’d make the raspberry syrup!) Terrific recipe. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi David, you'll love this! Such a great drink. :-) Thanks for the comment. (BTW, Blogger keeps making it more and more of a pain to comment, doesn't it?)

      Delete
    2. Not sure why I am anonymous… I will never understand the blogosphere… Thanks for recognizing me! I actually decided to make the simple syrup and am glad I did. We absolutely loved this cocktail and will probably have them daily till the raspberry simple syrup is gone! Thanks!

      Delete
    3. Hi David, Blogger changed something about how some comments are processed (we use the "imbedded" commenting feature so one can reply directly to a comment, and that's the one of course they decided to change and make more difficult to use). Only reason I recognized you was you commented on the blog right after you commented on Facebook! :-) Anyway, glad you liked this! And thanks for letting me know. :-)

      Delete
  2. Knickerbocker...such a fun name for a beautiful and tasty drink! I wish I could have one now :-) You made the best cocktails, John.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Angie, this is a good one! And we love the name, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  3. Looks like a great flavor combination. Raspberry, lime, and orange would be good with or without alcohol.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mae, those three flavors are great together! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  4. It looks and sounds very tasty.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a fun name! Raspberry is one of my favorite flavors

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dahn, raspberries are excellent in cocktails. Or all by themselves, of course. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  6. Given the name, I assumed it came from the Knickerbocker Hotel in NYC, but that didn't open until 1906. Sounds like a delicious cocktail anyway! And I do love rum. Thanks, John!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Terry, that was our assumption, too! And there was also a Knickerbocker Club, but that didn't originate until after Thomas published his book. So the name, at least to us, remains a mystery. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  7. amber rum is something i've never tried but definitely need it so i can try this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Ashley, amber rum has a deeper flavor than white rum -- good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  8. I love the name of this cocktail. It sounds great, one that I would enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dawn, it's a great name, isn't it? Great flavor, too! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  9. Knickerbocker, we also have the same name drink in the Phillipines, apart from the name and your description of complex flavours, the similarity ends there. Knickerbocker that I know is made of a mix of fruits like mango, banana, apple, and watermelon mixed together with, jelly, shaved ice, and sweet milk, with a scoop of ice cream on top. Having said that I love your Knickerbocker as well, you cant be wrong with liquor🤣

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Raymund, the Philippines Knickerbocker sounds interesting! Sounds like a great dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  10. Inger@Art of Natural LivingMay 4, 2022 at 10:34 PM

    As usual your drink photos are beautiful! I just bought blue curacao and had to endure more jokes about the biggest liquor cabinet. But I think I can do this with no shopping, especially if I wait for the raspberries to come in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HI Inger, you should see our liquor cabinet. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  11. Another fabulous rum cocktail to try out - and what a great name!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Laura, you'll like this -- lot of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  12. Rum, orange, and raspberry - such a wonderful flavour marriage, simple yet elegant. Beautifully styled, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ben, isn't that a wonderful flavor combo? Such a nice drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  13. I'll order one of these for Mother's Day! Sounds like a perfect drink for the occasion! I mean after the yard work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Abbe, :-) Very refreshing after the yard work! Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  14. this sounds and looks like a splendid drink KR. love your photos! i am teetotal atm due to taking antibiotics tho i have pretty much given up the booze since my fall last year. not that i was drunk mind you!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sherry, it's a pretty drink, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  15. Puts a person in a New York State of mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bernadette, with all the hustle and bustle of the big city, one needs a relaxing drink like this! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  16. Love the name of this cocktail John! I didn't even know there was an orange curacao. Good to know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Simone, isn't this a fun drink? And SO good! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  17. Sounds really nice, John! I much prefer amber rum to white, much more flavor if you ask me. I'm intrigued the name though. I don't usually associate rum with old New York. There must be an interesting back story there...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Frank, actually rum was one of the most common liquors in early American history -- first imported from the islands in the Caribbean where sugar cane was processed into molasses and distilled into rum. Then they imported the molasses and distilled it in the U.S. By the mid 19th century, though, I believe whiskey (in the form of rye) would have been more popular, but rum still had its following. So much to learn about cocktail history! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  18. First John, your photography is always breath taking. You can even see those little fluffy bits on the raspberry. So dreamy. Would love this knickerbocker cocktail on the balcony while watching the sunset - my kind of night cap. I agree over ice for sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bobbi, this is a great drink -- definitely balcony worthy. :-) Thanks for the very kind comment.

      Delete
  19. Just the name of this cocktail makes me want one. Sounds like a fun drink and some different flavors than I've ever had in a cocktail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi MJ, the flavor is rather nice. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  20. You're going to drive me to drink! ha! Your cocktail photos are always stunning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lea Ann, aw, thanks for that very kind comment! :-)

      Delete
  21. Yum! I think the Knickerbocker is going to show up at my next party.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff, it'll be a great party! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  22. You are the King and Queen of sensational cocktails, anything with rum and lime in it is perfect in our books. I've heard of this drink but never had it, that needs to be rectified. Beautiful photograph, I'd love to have your photography skills. Thanks KR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pauline, isn't this a great drink? We agree with you about rum and lime -- terrific combo. :-) Thanks for the very kind comment.

      Delete
  23. Cheers to the Knickerbocker -- a cocktail with a fun name and beautiful garnish! What's not to like? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carolyn, it's a good one! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  24. I love your recipes and the information behind them. I do wish you had a print button available that would make it easier to print off the recipe. Is there one? Perhaps I am just missing it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous, no print button, alas -- we haven't found a recipe plug-in that we like. Also, the Notes often contain info that is important, and no recipe plug-in that we've seen would allow the inclusion of those. We normally just take a phone into the kitchen and use that. Or copy, paste, and print. (Yeah, that's pretty 20th, century, but it works!). Sorry. And thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  25. This is an interesting name for a drink!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Balvinder, it's a fun one, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  26. Love the raspberry in here. It sounds delicious and a lovely drink for summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amy, it's a terrific summer drink! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  27. Delicious drink and interesting factoid on the origin of the name knickerbocker. GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Greg, isn't that a fun fact? :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  28. Replies
    1. Hi Izaa, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  29. Not only does this sound delicious, but I might have to make it just for that awesome name! Who doesn't want to say it over and over!? :-) ~Valentina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Valentina, it is rather a fun name to say, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  30. Howdy John, as usual your image are top notch. I thinking after a few drinks of this I'd roll up my knickers and make another...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ron, LOL! Good to see you again. :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  31. I love the backstory you shared behind this drink, very cool that it's such an old cocktail recipe. It will be like drinking a little history!! We will definitely try this, thanks John! 🥃

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Marcelle, this is exactly the sort of history that we like! :-) Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  32. I really enjoyed the cocktail! I tried it straight up but tossed an ice cube in - it needs that to shine. I also love the glass you used in your beautiful photograph. Can you share the maker? My old fashioned glasses are serviceable but very boring!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous, glad you enjoyed this! I'd be happy to share the maker of the glass if I remembered, which unfortunately I don't. But just do a search for old-fashioned glasses on Amazon -- there are several people who make "twist" or "swirl" glasses. I would guess most of them are good. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete