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The Fog Cutter Recipe

The Fog Cutter Recipe

This recipe is brought to us by the expat hideaway The Little Red Door in the Marais neighborhood in Paris. Its tiki-inspired Fog Cutter, with Cognac Merlet, rum, and peanut syrup, shows how versatile the spirit can be in mixed drinks.


  • 1 Ounce Cognac Merlet
  • 1 Ounce Plantation Three Stars Silver Rum
  • 1 Ounce orange juice
  • 1/2 Ounce lime juice
  • 2/3 Ounces peanut syrup
  • 1/3 Ounce dry Curaçao
  • 1 Teaspoon Pimento Dram

  1. Combine first six ingredients with ice and shake
  2. Strain into an ice filled highball
  3. Float sherry on top
  4. Garnish with mint

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The tiki approach to mixing base spirits generally goes like this: rum plus rum plus more rum. The fog cutter abandons that philosophy, and instead harbors an uncommon mix of rum, gin, brandy, and sherry. This combination may strike some as overkill, but it’s a handy recipe if you mean to clear the bar of near empty bottles. Fortunately, it also turns out to be rather tasty.

Debate persists regarding who deserves rights to the original fog cutter, and varying recipes have graced the pages of different cocktail books. Trader Vic’s variation has stood the test of time and seems to win the popular vote, as well as ours. The drink shares a name with its companion: a tall, ceramic tiki vessel that serves as kitschy mascot to the faux Polynesian movement.

Miraculously, the gin, brandy, and rum come together smoothly, creating a complex and refreshing seaside sipper. Be careful with the lemon juice the fog cutter is not intended to be spiked lemonade. Start a bit shy of 2 ounces and add to taste. Orgeat and orange juice balance the drink with subtle sweetness, while the sherry float contributes nutty depth. Reach for a straw so you don’t gulp up all the sherry at once, and give it time to crawl through the ice and slip into every sip. This drink may not be as aggressive as the zombie, but we advise a similarly cautious consumption.

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FOG CUTTER RECIPE: (Trader Vic Version)

Shake all the ingredients, except for the Sherry Wine.
Pour into a ice filled glass.
Float Sherry on the top.

FOG CUTTER RECIPE: (Don the Beachcomber Version)

• 1 oz White Rum (brugal white]

• 1/2 oz Cherry Brandy (Cherry Heering>

Shake all the ingredients, except for the cherry brandy.
Pour into a ice filled glass.
Float cherry brandy on the top.

According to Dr. Cocktail there is a bit of controversy over who exactly created the Fog Cutter. Tony Ramos remembers it from Edna Fogcutter’s, where it was the signature drink, but everyone else I’ve come across gives the credit to Trader Vic. You’ll see both of their recipes among many others compared below.

This recipe comparison came about after days and days of searching, and I almost gave up hope of finding a cocktail that had sufficient variation. So before we dive in, let me put in a request to all the readers of Kaiser Penguin:

Which cocktail would you like to see compared next?
Let me know in the comments!

Tony Ramos

  • 1oz white rum (Brugal White)
  • 1/2oz gin (Bombay regular)
  • 1/2oz brandy (Chalfonte)
  • 1/2oz sweet and sour mix (I used 1/4oz lemon juice and 1/4oz simple syrup)
  • 2 dashes simple syrup
  • 1/4oz cherry brandy, floated (Cherry Heering)

It’s no wonder that Tony was one of Don the Beachcombers original bartenders. His recipe is fresh and light. The cherry brandy takes the place of the sherry seen in other recipes, offering up a more complex and rich experience. I do miss the almond flavor that the orgeat offers in other versions, though.

Gary Regan

  • 1 1/2oz white rum
  • 1/2oz gin
  • 1/2oz brandy
  • 2oz orange juice
  • 1/2oz lemon juice
  • 1/2oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/4oz cream sherry

When I was mixing this version of the Fogcutter, I had a distinct image in my mind of what I hoped it didn’t taste like. Unfortunately, I was dead on. Orange juice with a hint of almond sums up this drink, and it lacks any sort of complexity that the other contenders have. Even the sherry gets lost in the sea of citrus.

The Internet Cocktail Database

  • 1 1/2oz white rum
  • 1/4oz gin
  • 1/2oz brandy
  • 1 1/2oz orange juice
  • 1/2oz lemon juice
  • 1/2oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/4oz cream sherry

A slight variation on Gary’s version, this one smartly uses less orange juice. Still, the orgeat and the sherry are both nearly lost behind the walls of orange doom. I’d choose this version over the previous, but most likely I’d choose neither.

Emeril and the Internet

  • 1 1/2oz white rum
  • 1/2oz gin
  • 1/2oz brandy
  • 1oz orange juice
  • 1 1/2oz lemon juice
  • 1/4oz orgeat syrup
  • 1 tsp sherry

Google turns up this recipe more than any other, and even Emeril had it on the Food Network site. It is tart and disgusting. I won’t even remotely think about finishing this… in the sink and on to the next!

Trader Vic

  • 2oz light Puerto Rican rum
  • 1/2oz gin
  • 1oz brandy
  • 1oz orange juice
  • 2oz lemon juice
  • 1/2oz orgeat syrup
  • 1/2oz sherry

Ah, the Fog Cutter. This is the one I’ve been waiting for. Trader Vic’s recipe is tart, creamy, and showcases the blend of spirits and citrus like none of the others. The sherry really gets a chance to do something in this version, and the orange juice provides only a sublte hint. It is by no means perfect, though cutting down the lemon juice by 1/4oz would probably bring the cocktail to near perfection.

Overall Decision

Trader Vic’s Fog Cutter is clearly the winner. It’s interesting, packed with flavor and deadly as all hell. Here are a couple of tips for a better drink that I found during this crazy tasting:

Lost Lake’s Fog Cutter Recipe

One of the most famous tiki cocktails made with gin, the Fog Cutter recipe gets a flavorful update from Lost Lake in Chicago.

1 oz. gin
1 oz. aged rum (Lost Lake uses El Dorado 3 Year)
1 oz. Cognac
2 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. orgeat
½ oz. sherry (Lost Lake uses Lustau East India)
½ oz. curaçao (Lost Lake uses Pierre Ferrand Dry)
½ oz. simple syrup (1:1)
1 dash Angostura bitters
Tools: shaker, drink mixer (optional)
Glass: tiki mug
Garnish: tropical assortment (edible flowers, umbrellas, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin, along with 2 cups of crushed ice. Buzz for three seconds with a spindled drink mixer (the bar uses a Hamilton Beach Drink Mixer), or shake really hard until the ice is broken down. Pour the contents of tin into a tiki mug and top with more crushed ice. Garnish.



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Fog Cutter Tiki Cocktail

recipes were not easily parted with so Vic used them as a base and tweaked them to his own taste. (Donn’s “Q.B. Cooler became Vic’s world famous Mai Tai). The Samoan Fog Cutter, however, was Vic’s original creation, written about in the iconic 1947 book, Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide. At Trader Vic’s, this vintage drink was limited to two per person….. In fact in his Bartender’s Guide he was quoted as saying “Fog cutter, hell. After two of these you won’t even see the stuff.” Martin Cate, owner of Forbidden Island in Alameda, California has his own version and has even registered the name on his car license plate, FGCUTTR. This cocktail is a perfect example of balance- - - the use of rum, gin, brandy AND sherry are tricky if not measured properly. When made correctly all 4 spirits should be present, and the citrus combined with the orgeat adds the classic tropical flavors you expect in a tiki drink. There are many variations of this classic, because of course all of us in the mixing business tend to take an original recipe and change a few ingredients to make it our own. I personally prefer the Trader Vic version, but have included a couple of others that are also delicious.

Samoan Fog Cutter

  • 60 ml lemon juice
  • 30 ml orange juice
  • 45 ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
  • 15 ml Bombay Sapphire
  • 15 ml brandy
  • 15 ml MONIN orgeat
  • 15 ml cream sherry
  1. Blend all ingredients except sherry with 1 cup of crushed ice for five seconds.
  2. Pour into a tiki mug, add extra crushed ice as necessary.
  3. Float the sherry on top.

Adapted from a Trader Vic recipe, circa 1950s, found in Beachbum Berry’s Total Tiki.

What’s in the drink?

BACARDÍ Carta Blanca
With a history dating to 1862, the Bacardi recipe has been around a long time. It offers distinctive vanilla and almond notes, developed in white oak barrels and shaped through a secret blend of charcoal for a distinctive smoothness. Available through Bacardi-Martini

Sánchez Romate Amontillado NPU
A character sherry top sit atop your Samoan Fog Cutter, this dry sherry has hazelnut and roasted almond characters with a dry, spicy palate — a touch o green olive. Available through The Spanish Acquisition

Fog Cutter - the rumors, the history & the amazing recipe from Smuggler's Cove

Here's how to make the Tiki drink the Fog Cutter, which is made with Light Cuban-Style Rum, Pisco (or Brandy), Gin, Lemon Juice, Orange Juice, Orgeat, Dry Sherry and Mint for garnish. This is Smuggler's Cove version, which is a marriage of Trader Vic’s recipe and Don the Beachcomber’s recipe. It creates the best and most complex version of the Fog Cutter.

Tiki bars, Tiki drinks and Tiki culture all stem from Donn Beach (born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt), who founded, the first Tiki bar, Don the Beachcomber, in Hollywood just after Prohibition. The world of Tiki was informed by Donn’s experiences as a rum runner during prohibition and his travels to the Caribbean and the South Pacific. He decorated his bar with artifacts and items he gathered from his travels.

The man who unwittingly helped Donn’s concept turn into a movement was Vic Bergeron, who after visiting Donn’s bar and falling in love with the idea of it, went back up to Oakland and revamped his bar to incorporate the faux-Polynesian themes captured by Donn’s bar. So Vic’s bar, Hinky Dink’s was rebranded to Trader Vic’s and Vic took the concept of Donn’s bar to The Bay Area and spiced it up with a grander sense of showmanship to it. According to tiki-historian and tiki bar owner, Beachbum Berry, Vic was the one who introduced the tradition of serving exotic drinks in specialized and exotic ceramic mugs and bowls.

But when Vic was getting started in the Tiki game, he not only took concept from Don the Beachcomber, but he actually bought $8,000 worth of Polynesian tchotchkes and artifacts off of Donn with which to decorate his bar. Vic also tried to recreate a lot of Donn’s original exotic drinks. However, Donn wouldn’t part with the recipes, so Vic had to come up with work arounds. Donn’s famous drink, the Zombie, was remade as the Tortuga. And later, Donn’s obscure Q.B. Cooler became the world-famous Trader Vic’s Mai Tai.

But despite all of the things Vic stole, the Fog Cutter was not one of them. It was not only Vic’s original creation, but it was one of his three most famous drinks, which included this, the Scorpion Bowl and, of course, the Mai Tai. The Fog Cutter is clearly made in the classic template of Caribbean punches, like the Planter’s Punch, but it’s ingredients were distinctly Vic’s. Vic liked using Lemon Juice and didn’t shy away from using spirits other than rum. Donn, by contrast, was the opposite. He preferred Lime and didn’t mess with Lemon. He also, loved to play around with different rums to create a new, unique flavor profile, but he rarely embraced other spirits the way Vic did.

Despite the fact that the Fog Cutter was Vic’s drink, Donn did offer a version of it on his menu. Donn’s version would use gold rum, pisco and gin as the split base, whereas Vic’s original would use light rum, brandy and gin. The version I like the best is the Smuggler’s Cove version, which uses a combination of both recipes (light rum, pisco and gin). It offers the most complex and exciting flavor profile for the drink.

The Smuggler’s Cove version also uses dry Sherry for the float. Most recipes call for cream sherry (sweet sherry). Vic’s original didn’t specify, either way, despite specifying in other recipes that called for sherry. So the dryness of the sherry is up to you, but again, I think Smuggler’s Cove gets it right. The sherry achieves the best balance to all the complex and dramatic flavors in the drink.

For the gin, I like using the Astral Pacific Gin from The Spirit Guild. It’s a small craft brand of gin that uses clementines for the spirit base instead of grain. And it also uses a compelling array of botanicals including grapefruit, pink peppercorn, sage and pistachios. The qualities of the pistachios and clementines perfectly complements the citrus and almond components in this drink.

If you don’t have a tiki mug for this drink, feel free to serve it in a highball glass or a pilsner glass. However, the Fog Cutter had a specific mug designed for it. It was a tall, hour glass-shaped mug, usually with a bikini-clad woman on it. Trader Vic’s still sells them on their website. But I got mine from Horror in Clay, a tiki mug maker that specializes in mugs with a turn of the century, semi-esoteric horror slant to them. This one, the Innsmouth Fogcutter mug, was inspired by the H.P. Lovecraft story, the Shadow Over Innsmouth, a tale about temptation, seduction, underwater treasure, lost cities, far off, unknown tribes and a Faustian bargain. So, it lightly touches on Tiki motifs.

The Fog Cutter is really easy to drink..perhaps a little too easy. Some Tiki drinks were notoriously strong and the proprietors would limit the number of these drinks that their guests could order. The Fog Cutter was one of them. Vic’s wouldn’t serve you more than two. That would probably be good advice to heed. This one can sneak up on you. Okole Maluna!

1 oz (30 ml) Pisco (or Brandy for Vic’s recipe)

float 0.5 oz (15 ml) Dry Sherry (Oloroso recommended)

Add all ingredients, but Sherry and mint, 12 oz (350 ml) of crushed ice and 3-4 ice cubes to a shaker. Shake. Pour unstrained into Tiki Mug or Pilsner Glass. Float Sherry. Garnish with Mint. Serve with straw and stir stick.

Fog Cutter

SHAKE first 7 ingredients with ice and strain into glass filled with crushed ice. FLOAT sherry on top of drink.

1 1 &frasl2 shot Bacardi Carta Blanca light rum
1 &frasl2 shot Rutte Dry Gin
5 &frasl12 shot Rémy Martin 1738 Cognac
1 &frasl3 shot BarSol Mosto Verde Italia Pisco
1 1 &frasl2 shot Orange juice (freshly squeezed)
1 &frasl2 shot Giffard Orgeat Syrup
1 &frasl2 shot Lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 &frasl2 shot Oloroso sherry

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