Cardamom Cocktails - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

From leading roles in chai to a supporting spice in gin’s botanical bill, cardamom presents a range of flavoring possibilities. “Cardamom is one of those really unique spices that carries an aroma and flavor profile you can’t forget,” says Nasib Saifullah, bar manager at NAMA in Richmond, Virginia. “It hints at sweetness, while being herbal, citrusy, and spicy at the same time.”

Green cardamom, also called true cardamom, is often used in teas and sweets, while black cardamom pods have a slightly smoky flavor and are usually incorporated into savory dishes. Inspired by the food at NAMA, Saifullah uses green cardamom to make a richly infused orange syrup for his Indiahattan Manhattan riff. “I wanted to incorporate flavors familiar to Indian cuisine,” he says. “Something new, but familiar.” In cocktails, cardamom often finds its way into the glass as a syrup or in the form of bitters. Here are some creative ways to play with the spice in your cocktails.

Cardamom + Banana Vieux Carre A fruity, spicy take on the classic.

Calebassito Cocktail Strega and ginger ale meet juicy watermelon and earthy mezcal.

Day Dream Punch Vodka infused with dried fruits anchors this twist on a traditional Polish punch.

The Fool Aperitivo Put a little spring in your step with this pineapple and rhubarb cocktail.

Kumquat Sidecar A Sidecar riff spiced with cardamom and brightened with kumquats.

Limantour’s Jamaica Cocktail Hibiscus steals the show in this simple mezcal cocktail from Mexico City.

The Offering A perfect blend of fall flavors merge in this tequila drink.

Party Cat Mezcal, grapefruit and cardamom flavor this delicious sparkling cocktail.

Tea & Biscuits Flip A warming mix of Cognac, chai, orgeat, lemon and cardamom. 


2 oz. rye whiskey
3⁄4 oz. Pedro Ximénez sherry
1⁄2 oz. orange-cardamom syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Tools: barspoon, strainer
Glass: rocks
Garnish: orange twist

Stir all of the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, then strain into a rocks glass holding a single large ice cube. Express an orange twist over the drink, then use it as a garnish.

Orange-Cardamom Syrup: In a medium bowl, combine the peeled zest from 6 oranges with 6 Tbsp. of sugar and toss to coat. Refrigerate the mixture overnight, then strain off the liquid (oleo saccharum) and set aside. Lightly crush 10 green cardamom pods and add to a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add 1⁄4 cup of granulated sugar and stir to dissolve. Stir in the oleo saccharum and reduce the heat to low; let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, then bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Nasib Saifullah NAMA, Richmond, VA

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