Cocktail Hour: The Blinker

One of my favorite things about cocktails is the the ability to drink a piece of history.

with my friend Fiona at a Speakeasy Party

With the advent of bartenders reaching for the classics, and online communities like the Chanticleer Society built around finding lost and forgotten recipes from the pre-prohibition era, we are lucky as imbibers to taste something that links us to our American roots.

There are many who would tell you that cocktails are an American invention, like jazz music. The historical definition of a cocktail, the act of mixing sugar, water, bitters and alcohol, was uniquely American.

So this week’s cocktail digs deep into the archives, thanks to Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails to bring you a classic piece of Americana.  This drink first appeared in a bartenders’ manual from the 1930s.  It is named for the horse blinders that were also referred to as “blinkers,”  so this drink should help you keep your eyes on the road.[divider]

The Blinker

2 oz Rye
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
2 bar spoons of Raspberry Syrup

Combine the ingredients.  Shake in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Strain into a cocktail coupe.  Garnish w/ a lemon twist.


Like my last recipe, Donna Rosa, this drink traditionally calls for grenadine.  When old drinks called for grenadine, it often meant a syrup made from pomegranates, though sometimes raspberry syrup was a common substitute.

I actually prefer a cloyingly sweet raspberry syrup like Torani in this particular drink.  I like the fake quality of the raspberry flavor as the extreme sweetness balances the bite and sour of the grapefruit juice, however, traditionally, the syrup would have been made with actual fruit.

I do use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.  It just makes the drink so much more refreshing.

As for the rye, the Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails suggests Old Overholt, and I agree.  Old Overholt is an excellent and inexpensive rye that I love to use in my pre-prohibition drinks.