Yale Cocktail – Classic Recipe & History

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Yale Cocktail

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Make a classic Yale cocktail


  • 3 dashes 3 Orange Bitters

  • 1 dash 1 Peychaud Bitters

  • 1.5 oz 1.5 Old Tom Gin

  • 1 oz 1 Soda Water


  • Technique: Simple Stir
  • Combine all ingredients in the mixing glass, except for the soda water.
  • Add ice to the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 10 – 15 seconds. Try to avoid over-diluting the drink.
  • Strain into a glass and top with soda water.

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The History Of The Yale Cocktail.

The Yale cocktail dates back to the late 1800s, and the oldest printed recipe I can find for it is from the 1895 book Modern American Drinks by George Kappeler. There are two main recipes for the Yale, this one and the Waldorf-Astoria recipe, and they are both very different drinks. They differ because the Waldorf-Astoria recipe is half Old Tom Gin and half sweet vermouth instead of a dash of Peychaud bitters. While the Old Waldorf-Astoria book was printed in 1935, it documents the recipes used by the bar between the 1890s to the 1920s. Therefore both Yale recipes are from the same period, and the two recipes are also both from New York. They were just two different recipes from two different bars.

Cocktails Inspired By The Ivy League Universities.

In the United States, there is a collection of 8 universities referred to as the Ivy League universities. The term is used to group the universities by their sporting league, but it also eludes their heritage. 7 of the 8 were universities before the American Revolution, Cornell being the odd man out, and hold themselves in high esteem. There are two other elite pre-revolution Universities, but they are too far from the others to be part of the same league. A sportswriter first coined the term Ivy League in the 1930s, describing the upcoming football season.

Like any good sports rivalry, each university in the Ivy League also has a cocktail named after them. The Harvard and Yale cocktails are the most famous of the Ivy League cocktails and for a good reason. As you can also see, I know absolutely nothing about team sports. I know there are balls and points, but past that, not much else. I was more of a D&D and Japanese manga kind of kid.

About George Kappeler And The New York Holland House Hotel.

Like the Waldorf-Astoria, the Holland House Hotel in New York had one of the best bars in the country. Interestingly both hotels were right down the street from each other, Holland House on 30th and 5th, and the Waldorf-Astoria on 34th and 5th, the present-day location of the Empire State Building. Opened December 7th, 1891, the interior of the Holland house was considered its prized jewel. The New York Times in 1891 praised its beautiful carved marble interiors, ornate rooms, and mosaic floors and described the hotel as a marvel of bronze, marble, and glasswork. Managing the hotel’s cafe and restaurant Bar was one of the top bartenders in the New York George Kappeler. He’s credited with inventing many famous cocktails, a few still popular today, and was the first to describe a classic whiskey cocktail as old-fashioned. He used the term old-fashioned to differentiate it from his other fancy and standard whiskey cocktails. George published his first cocktail book in 1895 and an updated second edition in 1906.

The good times did not last, though, and by the mid-1910s, most of the wealthy New York clients moved further north to park avenue, and the hotel started to fall on hard times. With the passing of the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act on January 17th, 1920, the hotel’s few remaining revenue streams dried up, and the hotel was sold. The Holland house closed that same year and was converted to an office building. The interior was gutted to make room for office spaces, and like the Waldorf-Astoria, a vital piece of American cocktail history was lost. Although, unlike the Waldorf-Astoria, the building is still standing on 30th and 5th next to Marble Collegiate Church. The grand interior is long gone, but it’s still fun to see the façade of the once-great Holland House.

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