The Knickerbocker

This week’s cocktail might seem out of place at first glance. With its rum, lime, and orange liqueur, the Knickerbocker is halfway to being a Tiki drink, more at home in summer than in October. But the Knickerbocker predates Tiki by many decades, and shows off some old-fashioned, fall-friendly features.– Andrew



Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Knickerbocker

2 oz Golden Rum
1/2 oz Raspberry Syrup
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Half a Lime
Fresh Berries

Combine the rum, raspberry syrup, orange liqueur, and lime juice in a shaker filled with crushed iced. Shake well but don’t strain – pour the whole drink, including the crushed ice, into a chilled tumbler. Add the shell of the lime you squeezed for juice and garnish with fresh berries. Enjoy!


Like I said, the Knickerbocker is old – it shows up in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 cocktail guide – and it shows. First, that raspberry syrup, which shows up in lots of drinks from that period but isn’t so common anymore (which is a shame, because it’s really quite tasty and versatile). [update - You can make raspberry syrup at home, but we’re too lazy for that. Fortunately, Royal Rose makes an awesome raspberry syrup.] Second, all that fruit in the glass, which is pretty rare these days but was all the rage at the time. So while it could feel like a tropical drink, the Knickerbocker ends up eliciting a fall harvest of fruit in a glass.


The original Jerry Thomas recipe is a bit boozier: two ounces of rum but then just teaspoons of everything else. We tried it, and it’s a little too rum-heavy, like a tarted up shot. Our version is a little less historically accurate but rounds out the rum a bit better, and the result feels better integrated. Feel free to play around.

Technique Tip: The best way to crush ice is to use a Lewis bag, a cotton sack you can fill with ice and bash with a mallet. The bag soaks up any meltwater and you can easily control the fineness of the crushed ice. You can find Lewis bags for sale online or you can sew up the pant leg of an old pair of jeans; nothing fancy is needed. The crushed ice setting on your refrigerator isn’t a bad option either. What you shouldn’t use, however, is a blender. Crushing ice also melts some of the ice, and a blender will leave all of that water behind – giving you a wet, soupy mess.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

  1. These cocktail posts are great! I love reading them for new ideas. I’d love if you would say where the individual ingredients in the drinks come from – if you made them, how, and if you purchased them, which brands. It would make recreating them at home a lot easier!

    • Priya, I’m so glad you like our cocktail posts. Syrups and tinctures and even liqueurs are pretty easy to make at home, and we try to include recipes and instructions when we use homemade ingredients. But raspberry syrup is one of those ingredients I can’t bring myself to make at home when Royal Rose makes a delicious syrup for us. I have updated the post to include a link to their website above.

      When it comes to liquor, I try to steer clear of offering specific brand recommendations because there are so many great ones out there and I don’t want to pigeonhole anyone. But, for this drink, we used Bacardi golden rum, Cointreau orange liqueur, and Royal Rose Raspberry syrup. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of liquor brands, but if people are interested in more specific recommendations, then I’d be happy to start including those in our posts.

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