Napoleon cocktails are a classic drink recipe that adds an elegant touch to any dinner party either as an after-dinner drink or as a standalone cocktail. A gin martini without vermouth, but with a similar high-quality gin. As an alternative, it uses Dubonnet Rouge, a red wine apèritif that’s simply sweet, gently bitter, and seasoned with quinine. In addition to being delicious on its own, Dubonnet mixed with gin and Grand Mariner makes for a wonderful taste combination. This cocktail is rounded out and versatile by the soft orange aroma that is added by Grand Marnier. It’s not just a great before-dinner drink, but it can also compliment any course within a meal. The sweetness also makes it popular as a dessert beverage.
Napoleon is available in many other renditions than the Curaçao option. There are recipes that use just 1/2 teaspoon of Grand Marnier and Dubonnet to cut those by almost one third. Depending on which gins you plan to use this with, it might work. One popular variation is to use 1 1/2 ounces of gin with half an ounce of Dubonnet and 2 dashes of curaçao and Fernet Branca each. An intriguing twist is provided by an Italian bitter digestif that can be an acquired taste, but will add an intriguing element to the cocktail. Dubonnet cocktail can be made without orange liqueur by skipping the orange juice. Having a lovely gin with it is a great way to show off the apèritif’s excellent pairing.
It’s important to use the most premium gin you can find in this martini-style cocktail. It’s likely that gins with a traditional juniper profile will work best behind the Dubonnet because softer gins will likely get lost behind it. The Napoleon is often made with orange curaçao, but you have to make sure its quality is as good as or better than Grand Marnier. The inexpensive versions of this orange liqueur will not do it justice. If you want this drink to taste great, I suggest that you try brands such as Pierre Ferrand or Senior Curaçao. There is no substitute for this cocktail in blue (or green) curaçao. In addition to the novelty of colored orange liqueurs, they are often of low quality and often neither as reliable nor authentic as Napoleon himself. When mixing the drinks, give the cocktail glass a few seconds of cooling if it is not already chilled. Before straining, place a few ice cubes in the glass and discard them.