Thanksgiving is behind us and it’s officially the “holiday season.” That means holiday parties, gatherings, and extra trips to bars are inevitable as we barrel toward 2024. We all need a throughline — a signature cocktail if you will — to hold it all together over the next four or five weeks.
Today, Uproxx is offering a great one — the Tuxedo No. 2.
The Tuxedo No. 2 is a bit like the Corpse Reviver No. 2 in that it’s a bright cocktail with an absinthe wash for the glass. They’re both gin and blanc vermouth-based with a touch of orange. The Tuxedo No. 2 stays very clean and bright with a touch of cherry liqueur instead of fresh lemon juice in the Corpse Reviver — and that makes a massive difference.
Before we dive into this delicious cocktail, let’s get a little context. The Tuxedo Cocktail — gin, sherry, and orange bitters — hails all the way back to the 1800s and the famed Waldorf Astoria in New York City, which named the cocktail after/for the Gilded Age aristocracy (like William Waldorf Astor) who partied up at the Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo, New York, along the Hudson. Interestingly, the name is a Lenape word for “crooked river” that much later became synonymous with the white jacket and black tie attire the Tuxedo Club members were required to don when doing said partying.
By the early 1900s, the Tuxedo was a mainstay of the Martini circuit at any good bar and then, of course, adapted for the times. The sherry was 86’d and replaced with an absinthe wash and cherry liqueur, and here we are.
The best part of this drink is the flavor. The Blanc Vermouth is a mid-way point between dry and sweet vermouth with a hint of vanilla. The absinthe adds a deep winter spice note that leans into star anise and allspice with a hint of dry herbs. The orange layers give you an orange-anise holiday vibe with the cherry sweetly lurking with the vanilla in the background.
Here’s how to make one!
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Tuxedo No. 2
- 2 oz. dry gin
- 0.5 oz. blanc vermouth
- 0.25 oz. absinthe
- 0.25 oz. maraschino liqueur
- 4 dashes of orange bitters
- Orange peel
- Brandied cherry
You really need to start with a good dry gin for this one. I recommend an American dry gin we absolutely love — Farmer’s Organic Gin. It has a nice balance that makes it perfect for this martini variation in that it holds its own against the bold flavors of the recipe.
Blanc vermouth should be in any good liquor store right next to the dry and sweet vermouth. Lillet Blanc is a great go-to.
Lastly, make sure to get real “absinthe” and not “absinth.” The real stuff is spelled with an “e” while the knock-off versions are not.
The rest should be easy to find otherwise.
What You’ll Need:
- Cocktail glass, Nick and Nora, or coupe (prechilled)
- Cocktail mixing glass
- Cocktail strainer
- Paring knife
- Swizzle stick
- Remove the glass from the freezer and add the absinthe. Roll the spirit around the bowl of the glass and pour off the excess. Set aside.
- Add the gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters to the mixing glass. Add a handful of ice and stir until well-chilled (about 25-30 seconds).
- Strain the cocktail into the waiting glass. Express the oils from the orange peel over the cocktail.
- Garnish with a speared cherry and serve.
This is so fresh and light with a deep flavor profile. The cherry and orange mingle with the spices, botanicals, and herbs of the vermouth and absinthe in the best ways. There’s a light sense of heavily spiced cherry holiday cakes with a ginny base that’s just kissed with vanilla and sweet rock candy.
The overall vibe is still light though. This isn’t a nog or creamy dessert holiday cocktail. It’s an effervescent masterpiece that’s stood the test of time (literally centuries) and it’s very easy to see why from the first sip.
The real best part is that this was easy as hell to make. It took all of, say, one minute to stir up and serve. That makes this a very easy go-to for the rest of the 2023 holiday season. Be merry and bright!