5 Classic Cocktails That Changed When Crossed Borders

If you have a go-to drink, chances are Spirited: Cocktails From Around the World has it. Author Adrienne Stillman profiles and provides recipes for 610 cocktails, ranging from age-old to brand-new, straightforward to intricate, in a sizable volume that can only be referred to as a tome.

In Spirited, she explores how these traditional beverages have been transformed in bars worldwide. She profiles all the drinks you may remember in a panic when your mind wanders in front of the bartender. Trends and globalization can change cocktails when mixologists turn to regional components.

Here are five instances of international adaptations of traditional cocktails from Spirited, several of which have the potential to become classics in their own right.


1. Blue Devil – Amsterdam

Stillman notes that this variation on the Aviation, made by bartender Tess Posthumus, substitutes blue Curaçao and the Dutch genever for the traditional gin and crème de violette.

1 1/2 oz (45 ml) genever

3/4 oz (20 ml) fresh lemon juice

3/4 oz (20 ml) maraschino

1/4 oz (10ml) blue Curaçao

Brandied cherry to garnish


2. Spanish Gin Tonic – Spain

There’s no “and” in the Spanish gin tonic, but there are heaps of garnishes in the large glass goblet it’s typically served in.

2 oz (60 ml) gin

4 oz (120 ml) tonic water

Any combination of citrus peel or slices; cucumber slices; fresh herbs such as rosemary, mint, or basil; dried juniper berries and dried peppercorns to garnish


3. Dawa – Kenya

The Kenyan Dawa Cocktail - Feastt

This cocktail, created in the 1980s at Nairobi’s Carnivore restaurant, is a honey-laced take on Brazil’s caipirinha. The name means “medicine” in Swahili, and Stillwell states that the honey-coated stick is “a nod to Kenya’s beekeeping tradition.”

1 lime, quartered

2 oz (60 ml) vodka

3/4 oz (22 ml) simple syrup

Bamboo Dawa stick with honey


4. Aquavit Old Fashioned – Sweden

Aquavit and Rye Old Fashioned — Vikre Distillery

Created by Emil Åreng, this Old Fashioned uses maple syrup and swaps out whiskey for aquavit, which Stillman calls a “cousin” of gin.

2 oz (60 ml) aquavit

1 tsp maple syrup

2 dashes of Angostura bitters


5. Canadian Collins – Canada

Canada Collins | Canadian Living

Out of the Collins family of drinks, people are most familiar with the gin-based Tom Collins. This version, from the Great White North, also uses maple syrup and rye whisky, which Stillman notes is a Canadian specialty.

2 oz (60 ml) rye

3/4 oz (22 ml) fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz (15 ml) maple syrup

Club soda

Orange slice and brandied cherry to garnish