A post prohibition era libation, the original diamondback cocktail first appeared in print in Ted Saucier’s Bottoms Up in 1951. The cocktail is named after the Diamondback Lounge, the bar at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. The original uses the more floral Yellow Chartreuse, rendering it much less alcoholic than versions more often poured today.
I was introduced to the cocktail at the Amex Centurion Lounge at SFO, an excellent bar that’s well worth the $50 pricetag for a day pass (free if you have an Amex platinum card). Michael, one of the bartenders there, makes a wicked, very potent version that uses green chartreuse, Rittenhouse rye, and Laird’s Applejack brandy. When mixed, the final cocktail clocks is 48% alcohol, (96 proof!) It’s like a delicious old fashioned with a hint of applejack and a floral note.
Michael says he prefers Green Chartreuse over its yellow brother because the latter is too floral, and (he admits) because he doesn’t have the yellow it in stock.
The Original Recipe
Original Recipe | For reference, the original ingredients are listed below. All ingredients are shaken at once and served neat in a cocktail glass, or served on the rocks in an old fashioned glass.
- 1.5 oz rye whiskey
- .75 oz applejack
- .75 oz yellow Chartreuse
- Garnish with mint
- 1.5 oz Rittenhouse Rye
- .75 oz Applejack Brandy
- .5 oz Green Chartreuse
- 3 Nice Maraschino Cherries
- Best on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass. If you want to serve it up shake like a Polaroid picture first (well at least 45 sec)
- Pour rye, apple brandy, and green chartruce into a cocktail shaker with ice
- Strain into an old fashioned glass over ice
- Garnish with three nice maraschino cherries
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