The Adonis

We here at Oh So Beautiful Paper tend to showcase some pretty powerful, boozy drinks. Let’s not beat around the bush. But sometimes you want a drink that’s not going to leave you drunk. And that’s ok too. Fortunately, there’s a family of drinks out there that are lighter on booze but not light on flavor. Here’s one of my favorites: the Adonis. – Andrew



Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Adonis

1 1/2 oz Dry Sherry
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Combine the sherry and vermouth with ice and stir well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with the bitters. Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy! The Adonis is dark and rich, with lots of spicy, herbaceous notes and tangy from its two key ingredients, both fortified wines. It finishes with some bright citrus notes from the twist and bitters; Dale DeGroff recommends adding in a muddled orange slice, and I can’t argue with him. It’s big on flavors but has a very mild proof, letting you tip back one or two without risk of drunkenness or hangover.


Letterpress print by Ink Meets Paper

This is also a really great showcase for the value of the lemon twist as a garnish in a cocktail. Take a sip before you’ve added the twist, and you’ll taste exactly what you have: sherry and vermouth together in a glass. But take a sip after those oils in the lemon peel have worked their magic, and you’ll have a real cocktail on your hands. That lemon peel really helps to bind the ingredients into something greater.


The Adonis dates back to 1884 and honors a Broadway musical of the same name. Adonis the musical, about a statue that comes to life and then finds people so wanting that he returns to stone, was one of the longest running in Broadway history at the time and ran for over six hundred shows. Just so happens it was at the Bijou Theater at 1239 Broadway, which was founded by famed bartender Jerry Thomas, author of the first cocktail guide. Who I’m guessing invented this drink as one of history’s first product tie-ins.



To mix things up, consider a close variation. Keep the sherry but replace the sweet vermouth with dry, add two dashes of aromatic bitters to the orange bitters, and you have the Bamboo cocktail, invented in the 1890s by Louis Eppinger in Yokohama, Japan, of all places.

Technique Tip: When I say “lemon twist,” I basically mean a thin piece of lemon peel twisted over the drink to express its fragrant essential oils. Take a paring knife or vegetable peeler and remove a broad but very thin piece of lemon peel, avoiding the bitter white pith directly under the peel. Twist or bend it over the drink to release the oils, then rub it along the rim of your glass. Some people then discard their twist, but I like to throw it into the drink to continue releasing flavor. You should be able to see a spray of oil drops on the top of your drink if the light catches it just right. Fresh lemons are best; older lemons will dry out and you won’t get crisp snap of oils bursting onto your cocktail.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper / Letterpress print by Ink Meets Paper