Live Fancy, Live Free with the Fancy Free Cocktail

The Fancy Free Cocktail is a Manhattan variation with maraschino liqueur instead of sweet vermouth. The recipe is all over the web the last couple of years after being discussed at a Tales of the Cocktail event. You can find Robert Hess talk about it in his Small Screen Network “The Cocktail Spirit,” read Hess’s review on Drink Boy, instead go to Drink Gal’s mention of the Fancy Free Cocktail, or instead go to Gumbo Pages or the Bar Mix Master.

Don’t worry, though: it’s all the same drink as the one I got from my 1948 edition of Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide, and if you want to make one at home, well, this is Stay at Home Cocktails. Simply combine in a mixing glass with ice:

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo is the only one I have ever used)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I didn’t add a garnish, but it could use a maraschino cherry (or a bourbon or brandied cherry).

It’s like a Manhattan, but the maraschino liqueur is different from sweet vermouth, obviously. It’s just as sweet, but it doesn’t have the spiciness of sweet vermouth. To me, it is a very different animal. The bourbon in highlighted here, where I make my Manhattans with more sweet vermouth (about half and half), so that the sweet vermouth takes over the bourbon. If you like bourbon, this one is definitely for you. If you don’t like bourbon (like one of our testers–weirdo) than you may want to stick to something else, for the bourbon really shines in this drink.

To me, the Fancy Free Cocktail is the epitome of the bourbon cocktail, as good as a Manhattan, and not dull.

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