Durango – Classic Recipe

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make a classic Durango Cocktail.


  • 6 oz 180 ml Grapefruit Juice

  • 1.5 oz 45 ml Silver Tequila

  • 1 tsp 5 ml Orgeat

  • 2 oz 60 ml Soda Water


  • Technique: Tiki Dirty Pour
  • Combine all ingredients, except for the soda water, into a shaker with crushed ice.
  • Vigorously shake the shaker for 10 seconds.
  • Dirty pour the whole shaker into a glass. Crushed ice and all.
  • Top the drink off with soda water.
  • Garnish:
  • Mint bouquet


Featured Video

The Durango. An Almond Paloma.

I only mention the Paloma to this since it has grapefruit and tequila, but the Durango is not related to the Paloma. This recipe comes from the 1972 Trader Vics Bartending Guide, predating the Paloma by around 15 to 20 years. The Paloma also uses grapefruit soda, while this recipe uses frozen concentrated grapefruit juice. I have the recipe here using fresh grapefruit juice, but the original Durango recipe calls for 1.5 oz of frozen concentrated grapefruit juice. Frozen concentrated juices are not as easy to come by as they were in the 60s and 70s, let alone frozen concentrated grapefruit juice. Since frozen concentrates are reconstituted by adding three times the concentrated volume with water, I have the 1.5 oz grapefruit juice reconstituted back to 6 oz.

A Short History of Tiki.

Contrary to popular belief, the Tiki cocktail and culture has nothing to do with traditional Polynesian culture or drinking and was born in 1930s Hollywood, California. As with many cocktails during prohibition, the trend of mixing drinks in the United States, which differed from the cocktail trends being made in Europe during the same time, moved more and more toward using fruit juices, syrups, and liqueurs to mask the taste of poor quality liquor. The epitome of this became the tiki cocktail. The Tiki trend can be traced back to two specific originators, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, in California.

Immediately at the end of prohibition, Donn Beach opened Don the Beachcomber near Hollywood Blvd. and themed the bar around Polynesian caricature culture in classic Hollywood style. It was like stepping into a Hawaiian vacation. This is what sold the public on it. Not only were the cocktails boozy, sweet, and damn good, It was an escape from the realities of life and the great depression the United States was currently in. Soon after opening Victor Bergeron visited Don The Beachcomber and fell in love with what Donn Beach created; he brought the Tiki theme back home to the Bay Area, where he opened Trader Vic’s. The tiki style slowly spread and exploded after WWII into a full-on Tiki craze. Peaking in the 50s with parents theming their home bars in tiki fashion and hosting tiki parties, the trend began to fade in the 60s. Returning in a bit in the early 2000s, the Tiki bar started to make a modest comeback. Not to the former glory it once had, but today most cities have at least 1 or 2 tiki bars that make excellent drinks.

Only Victor Bergeron published his recipes as far as the two creators of the tiki bar, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron. After 1989, when Donn Beach died, there wasn’t a single person who knew his recipes. Only Donn knew, and he took those recipes to the grave with him. Fearing that others would copy his cocktails, Donn was the only one who knew his recipes and would show up early each day to pre-mix batches of mixer in private. Not even his bartenders knew and bottles were labeled “mixer” #1, #2, #3 etc, “Spice mix” #1, #2, etc, “Donn’s mix” #1, #2, etc. Famous Beachcomber cocktails like the Pearl Diver, three dots and a dash, and Zombie are all former bartenders’ and patrons’ best guesses as to what the recipe was. Jeff Berry is the go-to historian for all things tiki and has done more than anyone to help preserve these recipes and interview those with first-hand experience. His reconstructions of Donn’s recipes are perhaps the closest we will ever be to the original recipes. But with Victor Bergeron, there are none of those issues. He wrote every one of his recipes down and published them in several books. Just look it up if you want to know the original Mai Tai, Fogcutter, or Navy Grog recipes. If you can’t find his book, google the EUVS Vintage cocktail website. It’s a free resource owned by Pernod Ricard that has almost every single cocktail book ever printed available to read.

Recipe Resources

Tools Used:

Download the free Vintage American Cocktail app.

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