Improved Whiskey Cocktail – Original Recipe & History

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Improved Whiskey Cocktail
Improved Whiskey Cocktail

If the name isn’t descriptive enough, then think of a Whiskey Cocktail but better. I’m just kidding; this is very different than the average Whiskey Cocktail. While the normal one is cardamom-y and has a spice to it, this one is orangey and licorice-flavored.

This first appeared in Jerry Thomas’s 1880 edition of his bartender’s guide. His improved cocktail versions never really enjoyed the fame the normal ones enjoyed, but they are delicious and worthy of being remembered.

Recipe Resources


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Improved Whiskey Cocktail

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



The precursor to the old fashioned, the improved whiskey cocktail by Jerry Thomas is a true classic.


  • 2 dashes Cardamom Bitters

  • 1 dash Absinthe

  • 2 dashes Maraschino Liqueur

  • 3 dashes Gum Syrup

  • 2 oz Bourbon


  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass and combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 20 – 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink.
  • Strain into glass.



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