Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Fog Cutter

Last weekend we got hit with our first snow in the Twin Cities, and although we previously mentioned how the colder, darker months inspire spiritous cocktails, this time the shoveling and the cold had us longing for the tropics. We are not Tiki experts, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve settled on an alluring Polynesian classic to brighten our spirits. More than just a fruity rum drink, it may surprise you that this cocktail contains three different base spirits and multiple citrus flavors. It’s complex, balanced and delicious, with a history firmly planted in the Tiki movement. Moreover, it contains orgeat, the darling of homemade simple syrups.

The Fog Cutter has had its share of variations too, as one might expect with so many ingredients. Some bar recipes have even blindly suggested pouring everything from the speed rail into the mixing glass. That would never do, and although you could jokingly say that’s what’s going on here, a quick scan of this recipe reveals carefully constructed proportions that your first sip will confirm. Still, the Fog Cutter has a reputation of being a strong drink, and more than one establishment has enforced a two-per-customer limit. Some places even require that you hand in your keys before they hand you the glass! This version is attributed to Trader Vic and appears in Jeff Berry’s Remixed.

Fog Cutter
2 oz light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz brandy
.5 oz gin
2 oz lemon juice
1 oz orange juice
.5 oz orgeat syrup
.5 oz sherry (float)

Add everything but the sherry to a mixing glass. Shake with ice until cold, then strain into a glass with crushed ice. Carefully add the the sherry by floating it over a bar spoon. Garnish with pineapple and a cherry.

Strong or not, the goal isn’t about the quantity but rather the quality of what we choose to explore here. This drink follows an interesting geometric ratio for both spirits and mixers. Notice that the proportion of rum at two ounces is twice that of brandy which is twice again that of gin. The same observation can be made of the lemon, orange and orgeat which makes this drink a little easier to remember. The float of sherry serves to flavor the drink as the ice melts. By the time you get to the last few sips, it won’t seem so watered down.

Since everyone experiences flavors differently and not all of us agree on what we like, small variations may be in order. We have seen suggestions that include cutting back a little on the lemon to reduce the sour as well as over-pouring the orgeat to balance with sweet. Yet, even without such subtle adjustments, this drink will leave you wondering why you took so long to explore serious tropical classics. Whether the Fog Cutter actually clears the air or just makes you forget about the snowflakes falling through it, you’ll definitely enjoy winter more with one of these in your hand.

If you like this kind of drink, you might want to turn your attention to previous tropically-inspired Drinks of the Week such as the Zombie, the Chimp In Orbit, the Mai Tai, the Suffering Bastard, and the Singapore Sling, to name a few.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10 years ago

Hi Randy ! Would you use a medium, dry or sweet sherry as a float ? Would a dry Oloroso work ? Considering the other ingredients it might be better with a medium as there aren’t many sweet ingredients besides the orgeat.

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
Reply to  Paul
10 years ago

The recipes I have seen call for cream sherry. Cream is a medium sweet style that comes from a blend, usually Amontillado or Oloroso with something much sweeter like a PX. Older bottles may have labels that say “Rich Oloroso” or something similar, but this is no longer allowed. Sweetened blends must now be called Cream Sherry. I suppose if all you had was PX and a Fino you could mix them!