The Suffragette Cocktail

In honor of the 19th Amendment

Your cocktail calendar entry for: August

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It’s August 18, and just to show we’re aware of more than the 21st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that repealed Prohibition we’re going to pay honor to the 19th Amendment.  That one prohibited states from denying women the right to vote.  It happened on this day in 1920 and in honor of the day we’ll be mixing the Suffragette cocktail.

The fact that the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 is pretty amazing given that the 18th Amendment imposing Prohibition had been ratified only the year prior, and the temperance movement driving that ill-advised event was largely run by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  Society obviously didn’t hold grudges at that time.

But rather than the temperance-obsessed, today we’re talking about suffragettes, and without relation to David Bowie’s song Suffragette City.  The term came from members of an activist women’s organization in early 20th century England, the British Women’s Social and Political Union.  They were known as suffragettes, revved up civil disobedience in seeking the vote, and the term became used around the world for women active in guaranteeing women’s suffrage.

Women in the U.S. were able to vote in several of the colonies that ultimately formed the United States, but by 1807 every state constitution had denied women even limited suffrage.  Organizations supporting women’s rights started to become more active in the mid-19th century and in the later years of the century new states, particularly in the West, began to grant women the right to vote.

The suffrage organizations continued their work, but the entry of the U.S. into World War I helped to shift public perception.  The National American Woman Suffrage Association supported the war effort and made the case that women should be rewarded with suffrage for their patriotic wartime efforts.  The National Woman’s Party staged marches and protests while pointing out the contradiction of fighting abroad for democracy while limiting it at home by denying women the vote.  Once President Woodrow Wilson announced his support, Congress passed the amendment in 1919 which in turn led to its ratification in 1920.

Unfortunately, at that time Prohibition was in full effect.  But that doesn’t prevent us from enjoying an appropriate cocktail today in recognition of the 19th Amendment.  And the obvious choice is a version of the Suffragette cocktail, another entry in our list of gin cocktails.

You see, as not uncommon for something involving liquor, there’s more than one version of any story or recipe out there.  The first published recipe appeared in the Pittsburg Press but was more notably reported on August 4, 1909 in The San Francisco Call.  There are a few modern versions, but we’re going with the original today, guided by what’s printed in the newspaper story.

The relevant article was entitled Suffragette Cocktail Makes Man Dish Washer. In a fashion somewhat reminiscent of Harry Craddock’s note to the Corpse Reviver No. 2 that “Four of these taken in swift succession will quickly unrevive the corpse again”, the important recipe section noted here explains that:

“One makes a man willing to listen to the suffragettes’ proposition.  Two convince him that it has some merit.  Three makes him a missionary, willing to spread the gospel abroad, and four will make him go home and wash the dishes.”

Gentlemen may proceed with caution.

Suffragette cocktail

Suffragette cocktail

While the first description of this cocktail in print calls for "Clio" gin, we believe that is perhaps a typo for what should be Sloe Gin, a liqueur made with gin, sugar and sloe berries, a botanical relative of plums. The British love this stuff, but it's relatively obscure on these shores so we'll stick with regular gin for now. We believe this recipe, using gin as we know it and adjusting proportions a bit fits nicely in the lexicon of three-ingredient cocktails made using a 2:1:1 ratio.
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  • oz Gin
  • ¾ oz Sweet Vermouth
  • ¾ oz Dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes Orange bitters
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  • Add gin, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and bitters to your mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir until suitably chilled.
  • Strain into pre-chilled glass.
  • Express twist over drink and drop in the peel.
  • Drink.
  • Rinse and repeat.
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3 Comments. Leave new

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    April 29, 2022

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      April 30, 2022

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  • Cayla Brignolo
    May 1, 2022

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