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The Blinker Cocktail


A nearly forgotten classic that’s poised to endure.

It’s been nearly a century since the Blinker cocktail recipe was first published, and bartenders still can’t agree on how to make it. The earliest recorded version appears in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s 1934 The Official Mixer’s Manual and calls for a shot of rye whiskey, one or more ounces of grapefruit juice, and a half-jigger of grenadine. But as the 20th century progressed, and commercialized grenadine became increasingly artificial in both flavor and color, drinkers and bartenders mostly passed the Blinker by. But the drink once again found a fan base when historian Ted Haigh published an updated variation in his 2004 book, Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh upped the amount of rye and swapped the grenadine for homemade raspberry syrup to revive the drink’s bright kick. Other bartenders followed suit, and raspberry syrup became de rigueur in 21st century Blinkers. 

Yet, there are still those who make the case for the original build. Jeff Knott, owner of Tartan House in Louisville, Kentucky (one of this year’s Imbibe 75ers), says that he usually finds the flavor of raspberries too dominant in the Blinker. He prefers to use a house-made grenadine of pomegranate juice, sugar, pomegranate molasses, and rose water. “Our grenadine is on the floral side, so it mixes well in this drink.”

Cocktails may be constantly evolving. But the Blinker is poised to endure—appealing to different palates and even inspiring a little debate. Besides, after a drink or two, who can even remember why we were fighting?


  • Tools:shaker, strainer
  • Glass:cocktail


Shake all of the ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled glass.

NOTETo shake up a raspberry version of the cocktail, follow the same mixing instructions but use 2 oz. of rye whiskey, 1/2 oz. of grapefruit juice, and 1 barspoon of raspberry syrup. Garnish with a grapefruit twist or some

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