The Yellow Parrot is a forgotten classic cocktail that’s due for a comeback. This blend of equal parts absinthe, apricot liqueur, and yellow Chartreuse is potent and unusual, but somehow quite delicious!
History of the cocktail
The Yellow Parrot apparently first appeared in print in 1922 in the book Cocktails: How to Mix Them by Robert Vermeire. It also has a place in the classic The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock which came out in 1930.
Not much is known about the odd cocktail and its origins. There is a story about the drink being invented at The Stork Club in New York City in the 1930s, but we now know it was published long before then.
What’s interesting to me about this cocktail is that many of the (limited number) of internet recipes for this drink say it should be shaken.
It’s not clear who first suggested shaking rather than stirring it, but given how the cocktail benefits from plenty of dilution, it kind of makes sense. You can shake if you like, but I prefer to just give it a good long stir.
Intense flavors require dilution
Intensity is the hallmark of the Yellow Parrot. Intense flavors, intensely boozy, intensely sweet. It even has a pretty intense texture.
To really enjoy this old classic, you want to make sure you dilute it enough. Otherwise, it can come across as too sweet or too strong.
And if you’re not a fan of anise or liquorice flavors, you might want to skip this one. But if you’re on the fence, give it a try, you might be surprised.
While the powerful anise flavor of the absinthe is still prominent in the Yellow Parrot, there is a lot else going on too. Herbal and fruity flavors add plenty of complexity and relief, especially when softened with a hefty dose of dilution.
To make sure you’re getting enough dilution, stir all ingredients with plenty of ice for longer than usual. Punch recommends a full minute of stirring and I agree.
You can also serve it over ice, adding more water to the mix and making for an even more enjoyable drink. If you want to add aeration as well, try it shaken.
Recipe ingredients & substitutions
You can use any absinthe you like for this recipe, but a more mild bottle might work best. You can also choose to use a pastis like Pernod instead of absinthe.
Yellow Chartreuse is mandatory here – don’t use green Chartreuse and expect it to taste comparable. Yellow Chartreuse is milder, sweeter, and a bit less alcoholic.
It took me a while to decide to invest in a bottle of yellow Chartreuse because I wasn’t sure what else I could do with it. Two more recipes that use it are the Yellowjacket and the modern classic Naked & Famous.
Garnish not optional
Lemon oils can work wonders for sweet cocktails and this one is no exception. Don’t skip the expressed lemon twist on this cocktail. Without it, the drink teeters close to candy-level sweet.
Peel off a large swath of lemon peel and express the oils generously over the drink and swipe the peel along the glass’s rim. Mini edible orchid optional. Find them at Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.
You might also enjoy these other absinthe cocktails:
Yellow Parrot Cocktail Recipe
- 1 oz absinthe
- 1 oz Yellow Chartreuse
- 1 oz apricot liqueur
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
- Stir for longer than usual, about one minute.
- Strain into a coupe glass or a rocks glass over ice (for a slightly less intense drink).
- Garnish with an expressed lemon twist.