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Drink of the Week: Stinger

It's not too early to start thinking about the winter holidays. It occurs to us that some readers might already be in the planning stages of cocktail parties and family gatherings. If you like to decorate with festive colors, it's easy to carry the effect into your drink selection. It's easy find red cocktails: look no further than the Boulevardier, Red Hook, or just about anything with Campari or sweet vermouth. However, you don't find many green cocktails. There's the Chartreuse Swizzle, but that one has more of a yellow tint. But, what about a true classic? The Stinger cocktail has a variation called the Green Hornet that would look right at home at a holiday party.

But, when was the last time you heard someone order a Stinger? For us it was probably a couple years ago, but it wasn't an actual drink order. It was an actor, on TV during an episode of AMC's Mad Men. If you are a fan of Hollywood's golden era, you might recall Cary Grant ordering Stingers in Kiss Them For Me which wasn't the only film of the day to feature the drink. That's because, once upon a time, the Stinger was a popular nightcap—an upper class after dinner drink, although it was also supposedly popular among young Navy pilots. Beyond that, however, the Stinger's origin is obscure. It appears in print as far back as 1917, but no one really knows who invented it.

It has sadly become lost among modern drinkers, replaced by would-be better combinations of spirits and liqueurs that have somehow remained more fashionable. Unless you are stuck in a period motion picture or a nostalgic television series, you might notice that even brandy itself has had something of a falling out in recent decades. Crème de Menthe also lacks the adoration of modern mixologists perhaps because it seems better suited as an ice cream topping than a cocktail ingredient. Despite the Stinger's bygone appeal, if you like mint and haven't had the pleasure, we secretly recommend trying one of these. Make it with green crème de menthe and call it a Green Hornet.

Stinger (or Green Hornet)
2.25 oz brandy
.75 oz white (or green) crème de menthe

Shake (stir?) with cracked ice to chill, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Substitute green crème de menthe to make a Green Hornet.

Most recipes call for making this drink in a shaker which seems to violate the shake vs. stir rule that specifies drinks with clear ingredients should be stirred. No matter. We don't have to be too serious about this because it's more of a guilty pleasure than serious mixology. Let's be honest—shaking isn't going to affect the flavor one iota, and are we really going to get all worked up over a Stinger? Of course not.

So, pull your mint liqueur out from the back of the cabinet and give this a try. We dare you to order one at a bar. Or, take Dave Wondrich's advice and try it with a good white rum instead of brandy. Any way you make it, this cocktail might be just what you are looking for to complete your holiday menu. We made the green version and served it in an etched Candlewick Boopie.

5 comments to Drink of the Week: Stinger

  • Deana

    Randy - this is my dad's favorite drink! We always have both brandy and creme de menthe on hand when my parent's visit. And I have seen him try and order one at a bar - it usually means that he has to tell them what's in it... I've tried it - and I can't say I'll be ordering one soon! :-)

  • Greco

    One of the reasons this drink isn't taken seriously is because you can't find a serious creme de menthe at a liquor store. You *might* find Marie Brizard, but that will be it. Most only carry bottom shelf creme de menthe (ditto with creme de cacao), and who wants to mix bottom shelf liqueurs with pricey cognac? I tried ordering the Get brand from Thomas Liquors at Prior and Grand, but they couldn't get it for me. The Get brand is recommended by David Wondrich, but Joseph Cartron and Giffard are also said to make good creme de menthes. Good luck tracking one of those down.

    And the Rum Stinger with white rum is delicious. Add a couple drops of Angostura bitters on top as Mr. Wondrich recommends. Flor de Cana white rum works well in this drink.

  • AK

    I've taken to ordering these in bars now that the Tepus Fugit creme de menthe is showing up in bars. That makes for a fantastic drink.

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