Sign In


Latest News
Godfather Cocktail Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

Godfather Cocktail Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

It would seem easy enough to banish the Godfather—a sweet, potent cocktail comprising Scotch whisky and almond-forward amaretto—to the dusty annals of the disco-drink era. And while this mobster film-inspired drink has somewhat fallen off of bar menus since its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, it endures as a whiskey-based slow sipper and terrific example of the range one can glean from only two ingredients.

“The Godfather, like its close cousin the Rusty Nail, is a relic from the mid-20th century ‘dark ages’ of mixology,” agrees T. Cole Newton, owner and proprietor of New Orleans cocktail bars Twelve Mile Limit and The Domino and vice president of the U.S. Bartenders Guild (USBG). “But while it bears some hallmarks of that era, it’s a genuine delight. It’s also a more versatile cocktail than the simple formula would suggest.”

You May Also Like: A Brief Guide to Everything Whisk(e)y

Unlike the two-to-one Rusty Nail (made with Scotch and the whisky liqueur Drambuie), the Godfather is classically composed of equal parts blended Scotch and amaretto. One could also rightly think of the Godfather cocktail as an Old Fashioned with an attitude. After all, why sweeten whiskey with bitters-stained sugar when you can use an inherently sweet and flavorful liqueur instead?

“The juxtaposition of this drink grabs me,” says Anu Apte, owner of Rob Roy cocktail bar, Navy Strength Tropical Bar and Vinnie’s Wine Shop in Seattle and a member of the USBG board of directors. “This drink is sweet; this drink is gangster. It’s meant to be sipped slowly over conversation and even perhaps with a cigar if that’s your fancy.”

Why Is It Called a Godfather Cocktail (and Where’d It Originate)?

The drink is, in fact, widely acknowledged to be named after the 1972 film, The Godfather, based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 Italian-American gangster novel. Yet despite cropping up fairly recently in drinking history, no one has explicitly claimed credit for the Godfather cocktail. Italian amaretto producer Disaronno International likes to repeat the claim that the drink was a favorite of actor Marlon Brando, who famously played Vito Corleone in the film. The cocktail appeared in Stanley M. Jones’s 1977 book, Jones’ Complete Bar Guide, and in numerous cocktail guides in the 1980s, reinforcing its origins in the ’70s or just before.

You May Also Like: 8 Famous Movie Cocktails and How to Make Them

“I [think] this drink came out well before the movie, but associating it with the movie and that lifestyle makes me happy,” says Apte. “Behind every grumpy old person, there is sweetness.”

Indeed, it’s easy to conjure the sort of throwback setting in which this brawny drink and Brando would thrive: grand old dining rooms with white tablecloths, with suited waitstaff doling out fat hunks of beef dredged in Cognac sauce, all blanketed in a thick haze of cigar smoke. Plus, the dual accessibility of the drink and its association with the still-beloved franchise arguably opens another door, by “giving people who may never touch Scotch a reason to try it,” Apte adds.

What Whiskey Is Best for the Godfather?

Though Scotch is the standard go-to, barkeeps will tell you that the whiskey used in a Godfather cocktail comes down to personal preference. And each pro has their own favorite, whether it be sweet bourbon (to highlight sweet baking notes) or single-malt Scotch (which smacks more of honey and soft smoke).

“Swapping the smooth, unassuming blended Scotch for a peaty single malt yields interesting results, and the ratio is highly flexible,” Newton says. He prefers a two-to-one build for a drier, spicier Godfather, though some modern interpretations cut back to as far as .25 ounce of amaretto. “Choose your own adventure!” he says.

You May Also Like: The Top 5 Terms All Whiskey Lovers Should Know

Apte likes to switch up his Godfathers by season. In spring and summer, he favors a “feathery blend” of Scotch, like Compass Box, or the approachable crowd-pleaser, Johnnie Walker Blue Label. In the fall and winter, he’ll grab a peaty and smokier expression like Ardbeg or Laphroaig for a sultry Old Fashioned-esque sipper. He keeps the ratio constant, at 1.5-to-.5, diluted with .25 ounces of cold water rather than serving it over ice.

Chad Hauge, president and co-owner of Common Good Cocktail House in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, counts among Newton’s aforementioned “modern interpreters” who use amaretto largely to season.

“I prefer to treat it like an Old Fashioned rather than an after-dinner drink, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how Brando drank it,” Hauge says. He opts for a 2-to-.25 ratio of whiskey to amaretto. When choosing the prominent Scotch, he likes one “with both a touch of Sherry and peat in it”—such as Compass Box’s affordable Glasgow blend—”because the flavors complement better between raisinated notes and the smoke that often comes in peated Scotch and the sweet almonds.”

The real reason he makes them this way? “It’s more gangster.”

How to Make a Godfather Cocktail

Adapted from T. Cole Newton, Twelve Mile Limit and the Domino, New Orleans

  • 1.5 oz blended Scotch whisky (Johnny Walker Red Label or similar)
  • 0.75 oz amaretto (Lazzarroni or similar)
  • Lemon peel to garnish (optional)

Step 1

Place a large piece of ice in an Old Fashioned glass.

Step 2

Pour ingredients over ice and stir lightly.

Step 3

Garnish with a lemon peel if desired.

Source link

Related Posts