Lesson Two: Recipes

Chapter Ten: The Purr of Liqueur, aka The Stinger


The Stinger was a popular drink of the 1910s, when recipes for it start appearing in books such as Rawling’s Book of Mixed Drinks (1914), by San Francisco bartender Ernest Rawling; Drinks (1914) by Jacques Straub, “formerly wine steward at the Blackstone, Chicago, and the Pendennis Club, Louisville”; and Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916), by Hugo Ensslin, bartender at New York’s Wallick Hotel. The odd thing about it is that in each of these three books it’s not in the cocktail section, but rather in the one devoted to “Miscellaneous Drinks.” This is because it was considered an after-dinner drink, a liquid dessert, not a cocktail proper. With a formula of equal parts brandy and crème de menthe, that was all it was fit for.

How did this after-dinner drink get into the before-dinner column? The legend is that, in the early 1920s, playboy-about-town Reginald Vanderbilt was extremely fond of Stingers and began ordering them at all times at Manhattan’s famed Colony restaurant/speakeasy, and if it was good enough for a Vanderbilt, it was good enough for anyone. (Once people started having them as aperitifs, the crème de menthe ratio began declining.) In any case, the Stinger used to have a reputation as a pet drink of the horsy set; of Society. There’s still a little “classy” aura to the drink, which certainly adds to the fun of drinking them, but even if its consumption were confined to ditchdiggers, the way the clean, fresh taste of the mint rises above the mellow roundness of the cognac would still be a thing of beauty.

2 1/4 ounces VSOP cognac
3/4 ounce white crème de menthe (use an imported brand such as Marie Brizard)

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Ryan Demonstrates How To Make a Stinger.

Fill rocks grass with finely crushed ice and set aside
In mixing glass add;
2 oz VS Cognac
1 oz Clear Crème de Menthe
Add Ice and shake
Strain contents into rocks glass
No garnish necessary

Reproduced from “Killer Cocktails” by David Wondrich.