Ideal Cocktail – Classic 1934 Savoy Cocktail Book Recipe

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Variations Of The Ideal Cocktail

First printed in the 1917 Hugo Ensslin book Recipes For Mixed Drinks, there are 3 main variations of the ideal cocktail. 1). The original 1917 Hugo Ensslin Recipe. 2). The 1933 Sloppy Joes recipe. 3). The 1934 Savoy Cocktail Book recipe. This is the Savoy recipe but the Sloppy Joes recipe from Cuba is very good too. the ideal strikes a perfect mix of gin, dry vermouth, and grapefruit juice and both the savoy and Sloppy Joes recipes are very similar. The odd one out is the Hugo Ensslin one as it omits grapefruit juice and instead uses a slice of actual grapefruit in the cocktail.

The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel In London

Opened in 1893 The American Bar at the Savoy hotel started serving American style cocktails in London to the British upperclass. The American Bar has always been a high end bar but what really set it on the map was when Harry Craddock became it’s head bartender in the 1920s. Harry Craddock was a British born bartender who immigrated to the United States, eventually becoming a US citizen and head bartender of several high end hotel bars, but Harry found himself out of work with the start of prohibition in 1920. He then immigrated back to England and became head bartender of the Savoy Hotel’s Bar. Harry transformed The American Bar from a high end bar to one of the seminal cocktail bars of the 20th century. As the american prohibition was coming to an end the hotel realized it should record all of its most famous recipes and the innovations Harry brought to the bar and a year later they published the Savoy Cocktail Book. Printed in 1934 The Savoy Cocktail Book documents all of the bars best recipes from the 1890s to the 1930s and stands as the pillar of prohibition-era, European cocktail innovation. If Jerry Thomas’s Bartenders Guide is the best cocktail book the 1800s gave us, then The Savoy Cocktail Book is the best cocktail book of the first half of the 1900s. I don’t think I will ever be able to drink there though. A cocktail cost around $250 there and they have one that’s almost $1000, and I’m not the Amazon guy, so good thing we have their recipe book.

how does it taste

I really don’t know how to describe this one. Its really good just hard to compare it to others. Its kinda like a daiquiri that’s not sweet and more tart and herbal than citrus. See even that a poor description, but those are the primary flavors. Even though it’s mostly gin, the sweet vermouth and grapefruit are what really shine.

The Most Important Ingredient

The most important ingredient in this cocktail is both the sweet vermouth and the grapefruit juice. A good vermouth goes a long way in this cocktail and adds nice flavor, more than a nicer gin will. Also only use pink or ruby red grapefruit juice in this cocktail (any cocktail really). White grapefruit is just way too tart, but the pink and red ones are a nice balance of tartness and sweetness. Also the pink and red grapefruits have a better flavor. Between the pink and red kind you can use either one. Both have a similar flavor but the red is a little bit sweeter than the pink ones. So if you want to make the drink a little bit sweeter use ruby red grapefruit juice and if you want the drink to be a little more tart use pink grapefruit juice.


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Ideal Cocktail – Classic 1934 Savoy cocktail Book Recipe

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make the a classic Ideal Cocktail.


  • 1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice

  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth

  • 2 dashes Maraschino Liqueur

  • 2 oz Dry Gin


  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards.


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