The Cocktail Archaeologist #1: The Olympic Cocktail


Welcome to the first edition of the Cocktail Archaeologist – where I dig up and review some largely forgotten cocktail recipes, and let you know how to make them yourself.

After posting my Caipirinha recipe for the start of the Rio games the other week, I’m continuing the Olympic theme with the appropriately named Olympic Cocktail.

Pulled from the pages of Harry Craddock’s venerable Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), I’ve reproduced the original recipe below (my modern ingredient suggestions are featured beside the recipe in [square brackets])

The Recipe

1oz/30ml Brandy [or Cognac]

1oz/30ml Freshly squeezed orange juice

1oz/30ml Curacao [or orange liqueur such as Triple Sec/Cointreau or Grand Marnier]

As featured in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930)


1. Fill a cocktail shaker/mixing glass with good quality cubed ice.

2. Add the brandy/cognac, curaçao/orange liqueur , and freshly squeezed orange juice. Stir for around 30-40 seconds, until the mixture is properly cooled.

3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of orange peel, or leave ungarnished.

The Review

The drink does take on an aesthetically pleasing bronze colour – which presumably led to its being called the Olympic cocktail. I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to represent gold, but the colour is a little too rusty for me to really think that.

The taste is a little too overly floral for my liking. I’m not the biggest brandy fan to begin with (thus making me a poor choice to give this drink an unbiased review, really), and the cognac flavour rather overpowered the drink. Combined with the Grand Marnier essences, this gave the resulting concoction the taste of vermouth that’s been left open to the air a little too long.

A more modern update of the drink that I found called for a dash of lemon juice along with the above ingredients. This may be a variation worth trying, as I think the lemon juice may slightly curb the floral taste, and introduce some welcome tartness – while also making the drink a more Olympics-appropriate gold colour rather than bronze!

Overall, I feel that the Olympic is perhaps a good example of a classic cocktail that (whilst it may have worked very well in the 20s and 30s) doesn’t really carry over well to modern palates. Unless, of course, you’re a big lover of brandy.

The Verdict

An interesting experiment, but not to my taste. Unless you’re a big brandy fan, give it a miss – stick to the Caipirinha’s for your Rio Olympics cocktails.


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