The Godfather Cocktail

Leave the gun, take the cannoli

Your cocktail calendar entry for: March
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March 24 is the day we mix up the Godfather cocktail for a very simple reason:  it’s the date in 1972 that the iconic movie was released.  Critics often place The Godfather in the running with Citizen Kane as their choice for greatest picture ever, so it’s certainly worth a drink.  And another viewing.  So to paraphrase Don Corleone, we’re going to make you an offer you can’t refuse and show you the ever so simple Godfather cocktail recipe.

The Godfather

Mario Puzo wrote the novel in 1969, and seeing a good thing Paramount Pictures purchased film rights for $80,000 before the book was popular.  Strangely enough, the first directors they approached for the project turned it down before Francis Ford Coppola signed on.  He wrote the screenplay together with Puzo.

Coppola made a good move.  The Godfather quickly became the highest grossing film of all time until it was unseated by Jaws.  But beyond that, as his second big hit after Patton, it cemented Coppola’s bona fides as a filmmaker.  It also rejuvenated Marlon Brando’s lagging career and was a catalyst for the careers of actors like Diane Keaton, James Caan, Al Pacino and Robert Duvall.

The Godfather received overwhelming critical acclaim from the start.  Previous mafia films had always looked at the gangs from the perspective of an outraged outsider.  But The Godfather pulls the viewer right into the family, their petty foibles, the way they think and the way they lived.

The Godfather also left us with several quotes that have been adapted into the vernacular, such as:

“It’s a Sicilian message.  It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”
“What are you worried about?  If I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead already.”
“It’s not personal, Sonny.  It’s strictly business.”

But to our Editorial Board one line that was improvised while filming stands above all:

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

That line in The Godfather is as powerful as Hamlet’s “To be or not to be.”  It’s representative of the Corleone family, their family-first mission and business as usual in killing the unfaithful.  Besides, Clemenza’s wife had called out “Don’t forget the cannoli” when he went on his murderous mission.  There are some wraths even a battle-hardened mafia capo doesn’t want to face.

Godfather Cocktail

The Godfather cocktail is a dead simple, two-part drink that emerged in the early 1970s and gained popularity after the 1972 release of the film.  But the rest of the history is somewhat murky.  Nobody knows who first came up with it and there is no definitive Godfather recipe – people have advocated various proportions.

The Godfather cocktail recipe contains just blended Scotch whisky and Amaretto.  The concept is the same as other Scotch plus modifier drinks we’ve covered, such as the Rusty Nail and the Rob Roy.  Even the ever-popular Bobby Burns almost falls into this camp as it just adds a tiny bit of Benedictine.

What really works with the Godfather cocktail is that the cherry and marzipan flavors of the Amaretto play very well with the smoky backbone of Scotch.  It’s a stiff drink with the hard edge softened.  On top of that, this is really one to make as you like.  Back in the 1970s, when tastes veered toward overly sweet drinks, some mixed the Scotch and Amaretto in 1:1 proportions.  We do not advocate this practice and find the result overly sweet and cloying.  A 4:1 ratio as shown here is better balanced, and if you’re really inclined toward Scotch you can reduce the Amaretto down to a quarter ounce.

godfather cocktail

Godfather Cocktail

A product of the early 1970s, when the movie, The Godfather, was becoming popular, the Godfather cocktail is a simple two part Scotch-based drink. And it's one you can keep on the dry side of make sweet based on how much Amaretto you use. Bartenders have used everything from a 1:1 ratio of Scotch to Amaretto down to a bare trace of the almond liqueur. The recipe shown here is one our Editorial Board believes to be well balanced.
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  • 2 oz Scotch Whisky Use a basic blended Scotch here, no need to pull out the fancy single malts.
  • ½ oz Amaretto


  • This is one you can build in the glass. Add ice to an Old Fashioned glass.
  • Add Scotch and Amaretto, stir gently.
  • Drink.
  • Don't forget the cannoli.
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