The Stinger cocktail is Drink of the Day for January 31, the anniversary of the debut of The Green Hornet. A masked, fictional masked crime-fighting hero always accompanied by his trusty sidekick Kato, the character debuted on radio in 1936, was a TV series for ten years and was later made into a film. It seems only natural that for something named after a wasp we should present the Stinger cocktail recipe.
The Green Hornet
The Green Hornet himself is the alter ego of Britt Reid, by day the wealthy publisher of the Daily Sentinel newspaper. By night he’s the Green Hornet, wearing a long green overcoat, gloves, fedora and green mask. His ever-present partner is Kato, who wears a similar mask.
Strange resemblance to Clark Kent and Superman? Or Batman and Robin? Indeed, but The Green Hornet was first, with Superman debuting in 1938 and Batman in 1939. And both of those were just in comic books at the time.
The Green Hornet was fodder for two movie serials in the 1940s. First came The Green Hornet in 1941, then The Green Hornet Strikes Again in 1941. Television as we know it hadn’t yet started and 28 short film chapters were produced.
The big breakthrough came in 1966 when ABC produced The Green Hornet as a TV series. It ran for 26 episodes and introduced a new actor to the screen: Bruce Lee played Kato, and for his birthday we mix the China Fight cocktail. Lee emphasized his legendary martial arts skills and probably provided the first American TV view of Asian martial arts fighting. As Lee became a premier star of the martial arts film genre The Green Hornet became a cult favorite. Lee also got top billing in his native Hong Kong where it was known as The Kato Show.
Further spinoffs were inevitable. Sony pictures produced The Green Hornet as an action-comedy film in 2011. Yet another reboot entitled Green Hornet and Kato is currently in the works.
Of course it didn’t escape parody, and The Pink Panther film and sequels featured the ever-inept Inspector Clouseau with his man-servant Cato.
Hornets are among the largest wasps, so we felt the Stinger cocktail should be the cocktail by which we pay tribute to The Green Hornet. The drink itself is a classic, originating long before the radio show.
In The Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails David Wondrich describes the Stinger as “the king of after-dinner cocktails”. He explains that the drink originated in 1890 when a gentleman named Herman at the Hotel Bartholdi in New York created the Bartholdi cocktail. It was a combination of cognac and crème de menthe served over ice.
The drink survived but the name changed. For a couple of decades it appeared as the Judge, the Brant, and the Ice Trust Cocktail. Modifications evolved as well, sometimes a twist, other times bitters or a dash of absinthe.
The Stinger name emerged in 1913 and it took off big, in part likely because the millionaire Reginald Vanderbilt used to shake them up for his friends. With a catchy name and well-known proponents it was popular until the 1980s, the Dark Ages of drinking, but in more recent times has seen the light of day again.
The Stinger recipe is simple but unusual for a spirits-only cocktail: many recipes call for shaking rather than stirring. Like the Vesper it defies the rule of only shaking drinks that contain juice. The idea here is to both get the drink as cold as possible and dilute it a bit more than would occur with a stirred drink. The alternative is to serve it over crushed ice which accomplishes the same end goal.
- 2 oz Cognac
- ¾ oz Creme de Menthe
- Garnish: None
- Add all ingredients to your choice of trusty cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
- Add ice and chill as appropriate.
- Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass if shaken or over crushed ice in an Old Fashioned glass if stirred.
- Queue up The Green Hornet on your preferred streaming service.