The Embassy Cocktail

The Battle of Trafalgar

Your cocktail calendar entry for: October
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Today’s the day to mix up the Embassy Cocktail.  Why, you ask?  October 21 is the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.  You know, the epic 1805 naval conflagration between the British Royal Navy and combined fleets of the French and Spanish navies.  Seems obvious we need a Trafalgar Day cocktail.

Battle of Trafalgar

This battle was part of the Napoleonic wars that ran from 1803 to 1815.  Those wars (spoiler alert!) didn’t end well for Napoleon.  France was the dominant military land power on the European continent at the time, but the British ruled the seas.  This inconvenienced Napoleon’s plans, particularly when the British imposed a naval blockade on France.  He also wanted to invade England and had to take control of the English Channel so his armies could pass safely.

Napoleon enlisted the French and Spanish navies for the task.  The allied fleet sailed from the port of Cadíz in southern Spain.  Problem was, the British planned for this.  The allied fleet, sailing north, encountered the British fleet commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson off Cape Trafalgar near the southwest coast of Spain.

The French-Spanish plan didn’t go so well.  That’s no surprise to us given that the British fleet was fueled by rum rations.  They were triumphant despite being seriously outnumbered, having 27 ships to the allies’ 33 which included the largest warships.  Nelson took a calculated risk and broke with naval orthodoxy.  Rather than sailing parallel to his opponents and firing broadside at the larger fleet, he sailed right at their flank with the intent of breaking the opposing fleet into pieces.  This worked, and the Franco-Spanish fleet was decimated.

Horatio Nelson’s Fate

Nelson himself didn’t fare quite so well.  His own ship led the column sailing at the allied fleet and somewhere along the line he was shot by a French musketeer.  He died shortly before his fleet fully trounced the French and Spanish, which further established him as a serious badass.

Speaking of Nelson the badass, researchers at the National Archives in London have gathered accounts written by surgeons at sea.  When Nelson stepped ashore in Tenerife in 1797 he was shot in the right arm.  Taken aboard ship for treatment, his arm was immediately amputated above the elbow.  Nelson was apparently back in action issuing orders within 30 minutes.  Of course that means he was sporting only one arm for Trafalgar.

Nelson also had a few good quotes that have withstood time.  Favorites include “Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake we must not interrupt him too soon,” and “desperate affairs require desperate measures.”

The Embassy Cocktail

But enough of this and on to the Drink of the Day.  Today it’s the Embassy Cocktail.  This drink was developed at and named after the Embassy Club in Hollywood, which is also believed to be the birthplace of the Satan’s Whiskers Cocktail.  It was first mixed up there in the 1930s.

The Embassy Cocktail is appropriate as a Trafalgar Day cocktail because it’s made from the stuff our protagonists (both British and French) were consuming.  We’ve got the rum and limes that gave England command of the seas, as well as brandy or Cognac in recognition of the French.

embassy cocktail

Embassy Cocktail

An invention of the 1930s Embassy Club in Hollywood, the Embassy Cocktail is a remarkably well balanced drink. A few variants exist in terms of the recommended rum. Some authors advise using an unaged, white rum, while others suggest a Jamaican rum. We lean toward the latter, believing the Cognac and lime juice balance better with a dark or Jamaican rum. We also believe one does well leaning away from the sweeter rums like Demerara.
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  • Nick and Nora or coupe glass



  • Add all ingredients to your trusty cocktail shaker.
  • Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into pre-chilled cocktail coupe.
  • Drink.
  • Rinse and repeat.
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