Frisco Cocktail

Last week we finished up with the classic whiskey cocktails and now we start general kick-ass whiskey cocktails, of which there are many. Some will still be from the 1800s and some created more recently. First up, the Frisco.

The Frisco cocktail combines the complexity and spiciness of rye whiskey with the rich herbal and honey flavors of Bénédictine. This 500-year-old herbal liqueur is produced in France. The liqueur is said to be a mix of 27 plants and spices, with multiple distillations, blended into the final product. The final recipe is rumored to be known by only three people at any given time.

The Atlantic Magazine published a fun article a couple years ago about the secret ingredients in spirits, using Bénédictine’s history as the focus of the story.

The History

The Frisco cocktail first appeared in William Boothby’s World Drinks and How to Mix Them (1934). He most likely did not invent the drink. His recipe simply calls for whiskey and Bénédictine, adding a lemon twist with no mention of lemon juice. Today, the most common Frisco recipes call for lemon juice.

The Recipe

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce Benedictine

Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain ingredients into a cocktail or couple glass. Some garnish with a lemon twist. I think that looks nice in a cocktail glass but I prefer serving mine in a coupe glass with no garnish.

Some places refer to this drink as a Frisco sour. You’ll remember from the whiskey sour, that a sour in its simplest form is a spirit, a sweet ingredient, and a sour ingredient. Because I don't consider Bénédictine a sweet ingredient, I don't believe this drink falls into the sour category.

The Execution

Here are a few tips to help perfect the cocktail:

  • I’ve seen other recipes that called for 2–½–½ (rye, Bénédictine, lemon juice) or 2–¼–¾. As always, find what works best for you and your guests. Bénédictine is strong and can become overpowering if not mixed properly.
  • Shake this cocktail because it has opaque ingredients (ex. juice). Stir cocktails that have all clear ingredients.
  • In many stores, Bénédictine can be purchased in a smaller size, 375 ml, which might be a good way to save a little money if you’re not going to use much.

The more modern recipe appeals to me because the addition of the fresh lemon juice provides great balance. This is a simple cocktail with only three ingredients and so is approachable enough for the beginner while remaining sophisticated for the seasoned imbiber.

If you have any questions about the Frisco cocktail, feel free to comment below, email, or hit us up on social media.