Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking


The revolver is a modern classic created in San Francisco in the early 2000s by Jon Santer. The name of this cocktail is somewhat a play on words if you consider this drink originally called for Bulleit Rye which was new at the time. However, you can use another brand or any good bourbon to make it your own. It is essentially a coffee flavored Manhattan riff with an orange accent. In addition to your choice of whiskey, you will need to select a coffee liqueur which acts as a stand-in for sweet vermouth.

We always appreciate cocktails with coffee flavor, and the Revolver is no exception. Coffee liqueur is very common, even for the most understocked bar or liquor cabinet. It also makes an easy alternative to sweet vermouth if you happen to run out or you think the inventory is old. You do need orange bitters, so that may be a little harder. With so many craft distillers making great products these days, it is not unusual to find local, small batch coffee liqueurs to try in this recipe. We used House Spirits Coffee Liqueur and are excited to try Caffè Corretto from Elixir Craft Spirits which is so delicious by itself that we almost hate to sacrifice it here. Yet, like the Manhattan, varying the brands is a great way to keep a simple recipe interesting over time with subtle nuances that will surprise and delight.

2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
.5 oz coffee liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir with ice to chill, then strain into a petite coupe (Nick & Nora glass). Garnish with a flamed orange peel.

For the bitters, we happened to use Regan’s Orange No. 6 in our most recent bourbon-based example of this drink and the flavor really came through, but the impact of orange was definitely enhanced by the garnish. We have used a flamed orange peel several times in the past. In addition to having some fun with fire there is a lot more to this effect than bartending flair. If you select a good, solid orange peel (as opposed to one that is old and spongy), you can express an incredible amount of oil from the zest with a single snap. As the spray passes through the flame of a match it ignites with a whoosh, showering the drink with caramelized orange flavor. It may seem a little daunting at first, but this has more to do with the limited time you have with a match. There are lots of videos online to help you master the technique, but you can practice over the sink until you get the hang of it. Be sure to rub the peel around the rim of the glass before dropping it in, and you will be impressed with how much flavor and aroma this accent contributes to the drink.

We are big fans of the Revolver and wish we had started making these years ago. It is a strong cocktail that benefits from dilution, so be sure to give it plenty of time stirring with ice to chill and to cut the alcohol burn. If you have enjoyed this cocktail at bars or have made it yourself, let us know in the comments.

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