The Algonquin is a classic whiskey cocktail made with the unusual mix of rye, dry vermouth, and pineapple juice.
History of the Algonquin cocktail
The history of this cocktail is particularly nonexistent. Like most classics, we don’t know exactly when this recipe came to be, or who first mixed one up.
But we do know that it was named for the Algonquin Hotel in NYC, and it likely originated there during the 1930s, or perhaps earlier.
Other than the tie to the historic hotel, the Algonquin cocktail is kind of a mystery. The classic recipe is great but feel free to experiment with the following recipe variations to find your own preferred version.
There are a few slight variations on the Algonquin out there, most commonly including the use of a sweet white vermouth (also called blanc or bianco vermouth, depending on the country of origin).
This substitution makes for a less dry cocktail, so if you tend to prefer your drinks a bit on the sweeter side, try this recipe with Dolin Blanc instead of a dry vermouth.
Some recipes also call for a dash or two of bitters. Adding bitters gives the cocktail a more complex flavor. Common suggested bitters are Peychaud’s or orange, but other fun options are “tiki-style” bitters or spice flavors like cardamom.
My favorite way to add complexity to this simple classic is to use an absinthe rinse. Absinthe and pineapple are a fantastic combination because of absinthe’s anise-forward flavor.
Pineapple juice vs. pineapple syrup
Some recipes call for pineapple syrup in place of pineapple juice. If using a top quality syrup, this is a great way to make the Algonquin a stirred drink with a silky mouthfeel.
This does produce a slightly sweeter drink though, and I personally miss the acidity that fresh pineapple brings. To try the Algonquin with pineapple syrup, check out this recipe on Imbibe by bartender Banjo Amberg.
Squeezing an orange peel over the finished drink is another great way to add to the overall flavor of the Algonquin. The bright citrus oils liven things up, add freshness, and bring out the best in both the rye and the pineapple.
You can garnish the drink with the peel or discard it. Common Algonquin garnishes are a pineapple wedge and a cocktail cherry. I love to garnish with tiny pineapple fronds and an edible flower or two. The flower I’ve used here is a crabapple blossom.
Fresh pineapple juice
If you really want to enjoy this drink, use fresh pineapple juice. It makes a big difference. If using canned or bottled juice, be sure it’s unsweetened.
Fresh pineapple juice is sweet and sour but it can sometimes be a little too sour or acidic tasting. If this is the case for your juice, you can adjust this recipe by adding a small amount of simple syrup or honey syrup. Start with ¼ ounce and add more if necessary.
To shake or to stir
The standard rules of cocktail making would say that this drink needs to be shaken, due to the juice.
However, pineapple juice forms a very foamy head when shaken, and apparently some folks aren’t a fan.
If you want a less foamy texture, you can stir the ingredients with plenty of ice instead of shaking. While some like this softer texture, I greatly prefer a shaken Algonquin, complete with frothy head.
You might also enjoy these other whiskey cocktails:
Algonquin Rye Whiskey Cocktail
- 1½ oz rye whiskey
- ¾ oz dry vermouth
- ¾ oz pineapple juice
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it ¾ with ice.
- Shake until chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass.
- Garnish with pineapple or a cocktail cherry.