John Collingwood: The Resurgence of the Blue Cocktail

This is a topic that has got my mind working in overdrive for a few months now.

This picture gives Simon Webster the horn.

BarlifeUK requested that I look into this, and if I am honest, it has proved to be a lot more difficult that I first anticipated. To get things going, here is a question that I guarantee as a bartender you will have had asked of you:

‘Do you throw the bottles around like Tom Cruise?’

This to me is why we will never be able to get away from the Blue Cocktail. It’s absolutely crazy to think that film came out in 1988, but for a lot of the guests that come into our bars, it is the only reference point for the term ‘cocktail’. They expect to see umbrellas, neon colours and drinks that are long and super sweet.

The colour blue has affiliation with a lot of my childhood memories…raspberry flavoured super sour sweets and ice pops – I never understood why they were this fluorescent blue, instead of red and could go a long way into explaining why I have such a love for straight up Daiquiris on the sour side.

These were my parent’s worst nightmare, as all those E numbers and sugar rattling around in my brain that got me ‘up a height’, as they would like to put it. But because they were bad they were good, its the ‘don’t you dare do that’ syndrome that bartenders grasp with both hands. They will always have a place in our hearts, the guilty pleasures that we can’t ignore.

A good friend of mine Ogi D from the Leeds, encapsulated it perfectly:

‘Blue isn’t a colour…it is a lifestyle. The effect is purely psychological. Bringing a flood of memories through this simple yet potent trigger effect. It makes the drink itself a garnish’.

He gave me an epic cocktail that can transport you back to days gone by – ‘Banana-Malibu-Blue-Daiquiri’

  • 25 ml Malibu
  • 20 ml Blue Curacao
  • 25 ml Malibu
  • Half a medium sized banana (rest could be used as a face mask or a nutritious treat)
  • 10 ml Wray & Nephew rum
  • 10 ml Sugar Syrup

Mash the banana, add the rest and steam-train shake it to oblivion Double strain into a Cocktail glass previously rimmed with blue sugar. Add 25 ml of Guinness on top as a float.

Clean & classic

It is very strange to think that we seem to completely ignore another way of looking at my favourite colour. On every corner of the globe people see the colour blue…you just have to look up at the sky or swim in the sea, to be reminded that it also represents purity, vitality and life itself.

I am not going to go off on a mad tangent and be all ‘hippy-like’, but when you consider it in this form, your mindset should change. This is when my quest became a lot more interesting, as I began to wonder…when did the Blue Cocktail first come about?

Book Worm

Smurftender lurked in the shadows, waiting. He would have his vengeance for all the blue drink recipes Jacob Briars had stolen over the years.

This is the thing I love most – delving into the archives and doing a little bit of research. However, this can be your downfall. Why? Well as soon as you start to make references to when you think a cocktail or as I am trying to find out ‘a colour’ of a cocktail, first came about; then someone will try and catch you out.

Fingers crossed I have uncovered a few gems you will never have heard about, and that you will go away and try to recreate them.

The obvious place to start was the spirit that gives the fabulous sky blue (purpley) hue…the cause, Crème de Violette or as it was commonly known back in the day, Crème Yvette. I wanted to unearth some beauties, no umbrella in sight (but a red flag is optional).

The Dewey Cocktail

Fort Wayne News (July 29th, 1898): “When the red, white and blue concoction was shoved across to him he pulled a red handkerchief out of his pocket, attached it to his cane and held it over his head with one hand, while with the other he tilted the glass until the cocktail trickled down his throat. “What’s the game?” asked the bartender.“No game at all,” said the big man. “It’s strictly according to naval regulations. Red flag hoisted to signal that I am taking ammunition aboard, that’s all” and with a cheer for the red, white and blue, he wandered out.”

  • Half part Raspberry juice or syrup
  • Half part Maraschino
  • Half part Crème Yvette
  • One part Plymouth Navy Strength Gin

Layer ingredients into small wine glass. Needs to be consumed in one sip as the sailors did it. Red flag optional.

A few years later, a lovely sparkly number – New York Day by Day by O.O. McIntyre (even his name makes you want to have a drink with him) November 24th, 1915

The Submarine Kiss

“Sailors who come to Broadway for a touch of high life have invented a new drink called The Submarine Kiss. The liquid combination is a milky white above and purple below and the submarine effect is secured after drinking about three.”

Silver fizz floated on a pony of Crème Yvette in a hollow-stemmed champagne glassThe good folks at Crème Yvette, have recreated this into an absolute delight (which I have tweaked a bit, to be a bit more on the sour side)25ml Crème YvetteTop with Silver Fizz, which is,

  • 50ml Plymouth Gin
  • 15ml fresh lemon juice
  • 10ml Simple Syrup
  • 10ml Egg White
  • Combine silver fizz ingredients in two-part shaker tin. Dry shake. Add ice. Shake again. Add Crème Yvette to the bottom of a hollow stemmed coupe or champagne flute. Fine strain and layer silver fizz over Crème Yvette.

The thing is, I could now continue to list dozens of more cocktails, but what is the fun in that; I personally find that the best way to learn is to actually go out and do some research yourself.

I did not want to describe the obvious classics, like the original Aviation. It’s first reference was written in Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks and included 2 dashes of crème de Violette but was later omitted in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), as it was so hard to come by (phew!).

What I will do is get you to click on this link which will lead you to unearthing some more amazing long forgotten drinks, as well as some old favourites. I hope that you have enjoyed my little piece and please feel free to get in touch by emailing: