All mimsy were the borogoves

Drambuie really needs to learn how to play nice. This Scotch-based liqueur, flavored with herbs and honey, is, in my estimation, one of the loveliest creations among the many bottles on the back bar. The liqueur is quite pleasant on its own, but perhaps due to the natural surliness of Scotch, or maybe the deep, layered richness of the flavors, Drambuie just doesn’t get along that well with other spirits. Sure, there are exceptions — the Rusty Nail, the Bobby Burns (both of which marry Scotch with a Scotch-based liqueur, so those are easy), and one of my favorites, the Gansevoort Fizz — but for the most part Drambuie is just too individualistic to play nice in a cocktail.

The Jabberwocky is a fourth drink to add to this list. The recipe was shared with me by Chad Solomon, the uber-talented bartender at Pegu Club in NYC who created it, basing the mix on one other decent Drambuie-containing drink, the Mackinnon Fizz. Pairing Drambuie with the assertive juniper flavor found in Tanqueray, and sharpening it with both lemon and lime juices, the Jabberwocky has a touch of absurdist, barely restrained wildness about it — much like Drambuie’s Scotch base, and the drink’s namesake poem. And yes, the brand of the gin matters — many gentler gins would fold when confronted with Drambuie’s irascible flavor, but Tanqueray has a stiff juniper backbone that keeps its identity in a complex mixture such as this one. While in a cocktail glass this drink might still be too rough, with knobby elbows and bits of spiky brambles poking above the rim, the Jabberwocky works well when tamed with sparkling water — a little effervescence and a touch of dilution to keep it from being too serious. Just keep an eye out for the Jubjub bird and the frumious Bandersnatch.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Tanqueray gin
  • 1 ounce Drambuie
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled highball glass; top with club soda.

7 Responses to All mimsy were the borogoves

  1. Very nice, sir. But I’m a little confused by the finish. You call for “top with club soda” in the recipe, but in the text you are talking about “tamed with sparkling water.” You mean as a chaser?

    I’m also surprised that the drink is both shaken with ice and then strained over rocks too? Oh, never mind, I’ll just get out my toolbox and see for myself…

    All the best!

  2. I have been looking for an excuse to pick up more than a tiny bottle of Drambuie, and this looks like it. I have one or two more tiki-related drinks to post about before I can dive in, though.

    It’s nice to see a brand recommendation on the gin too; I can see Tanqueray holding up easily.

  3. Joseph — forgive my clumsy language; the recipe is correct. I meant that, should you taste the Jabberwocky as a short drink, it will still come across a little flinty; a quick spritz or two from the soda siphon, though, quickly puts it into line. And shaking it before straining it into the ice-filled glass chills the ingredients rapidly, so you have a ready-to-go drink as soon as you’ve topped it with the fizz.

    Rick–I think gin is perhaps the spirit where brand recommendations are most necessary; each brand is so unique, and they behave so differently in different cocktails–what’s perfect in a martini can totally disappear (or, worse yet, suck) in a complicated cocktail like an Aviation or a Corpse Reviver. As your experiments with the venerable G&T demonstrated, gins vary, and I’m trying to take brands into account every time I mix a drink.

  4. Ah! I tried this Monday and forgot to top it with club soda. I’m sure that that omission was what caused the juniper notes to become medicinal.

  5. Can you tell us more about the Mackinnon Fizz? It’s not mentioned on from what I can see…

  6. […] On that note, there is nothing left to do than simultaneously embrace the geek within and staunchly refuse to accept the college saying “its not alcoholism till you graduate,” by sharing with you a particularly tasteful recipe that is oh-so appropriate to the topic at hand: The Jabberwocky. […]

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