The Green Swizzle

P.G. Wodehouse's birthday

Your cocktail calendar entry for: October
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P.G. Wodehouse was born on October 15, 1881.  He was a prolific English author, likely the most widely read humorist of the 20th century and is most famous for his stories involving the affable dolt Bertie Wooster and his sagacious valet Jeeves.  Today the Green Swizzle, which appears in one of his stories, is our Drink of the Day.  To misuse a line from The Code of the Woosters, if one were glancing at the Green Swizzle and P.G. Wodehouse you might say “You two fit like pork and beans.”

Most of Wodehouse’s stories are set in the United Kingdom.  He published more than ninety books, forty plays, two hundred short stories and other bits between 1902 and 1974.  In 1915 The Saturday Evening Post paid him to serialize Something New, the first of his farcical novels and first of his best sellers.  Wodehouse soon published Jeeves Takes Charge, the story in which Bertie and Jeeves meet, and wrote about them for the rest of his life.

Given the time of the stories and Bertie’s status as one of the idle rich, alcohol is frequently involved.  In Jeeves Takes Charge Bertie hires Jeeves immediately after he whips up a cure for Bertie’s excruciating hangover.  As Bertie tells it, “I felt as though somebody had touched off a bomb inside the old bean and was strolling down my throat with a lighted torch, and then everything seemed suddenly to get all right. The sun shone in through the window; birds twittered in the tree-tops; and, generally speaking, hope dawned once more.”

Typically, the stories involved Bertie getting himself into some sort of sticky wicket, like accidentally getting engaged, which called for him to rely upon the prodigious brain power of Jeeves to remedy the situation.  A typical plot line might also have Bertie introduce a garish new suit or other item that Jeeves disapproves of, which at the end of the story he relinquishes for Jeeves to burn.  A typical exchange from The Inimitable Jeeves goes as follows:

“Jeeves,” I said, ’those spats.”
“Yes, sir?”
“You really dislike them?
“Intensely, sir.”
“You don’t think time might induce you to change your view?”
“No, sir.”
“All right, then.  Very well.  Say no more.  You may burn them.”

“Thank you very much, sir.  I have already done so.  Before breakfast this morning.  A quiet grey is far more suitable, sir. Thank you, sir.”

Jeeves always dispatches his work with a benign indifference, the consummate ‘Gentleman’s Gentleman’.  Commenting in Right Ho, Jeeves, Bertie observes “There is about him something that seems to soothe and hypnotize. To the best of my knowledge, he has never encountered a charging rhinoceros, but should this contingency occur, I have no doubt that the animal, meeting his eye, would check itself in mid-stride, roll over and lie purring with its legs in the air.”

We will never do justice to Wodehouse’s masterful use of the English language, so it’s time for us to turn toward the Green Swizzle, our Drink of the Day.  This drink was introduced in The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy, when Bertie and Biffy enter the West Indian section of the London British Empire Exhibition.  As Bertie tells it:

“I have never been in the West Indies, but I am in a position to state that in certain of the fundamentals of life they are streets ahead of our European civilization.  The man behind the counter, as kindly a bloke as I ever wish to meet, seemed to guess our requirements the moment we hove in view. Scarcely had our elbows touched the wood before he was leaping to and fro, bringing down a new bottle with each leap.  A planter, apparently, does not consider he has had a drink unless it contains at least seven ingredients, and I’m not saying, mind you, that he isn’t right.  The man behind the bar told us the things were called Green Swizzles; and, if ever I marry and have a son, Green Swizzle Wooster is the name that will go down on the register, in memory of the day his father’s life was saved at Wembley.”

There’s just one problem: the story does not provide a recipe.  Many bartenders have created their own version of the Green Swizzle, but here we are going to rely upon a 2007 recipe by the eminent cocktail historian David Wondrich that he published in Esquire.  If you need a primer on swizzle sticks please see the Heckle and Jeckle Swizzle.

Green Swizzle

Green Swizzle

The Green Swizzle as consumed by Bertie Wooster in P.G. Wodehouse's works did not have a specified recipe, but several cocktail luminaries have created them. Here we make use of a version published by David Wondrich in 2011.
One thing to note is that the better brands of Creme de Menthe now available, such as Giffard and Tempus Fugit, are clear rather than green. If color is a must for authenticity, The Drunkard's Almanac would not look down upon an added drop of green food coloring.
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  • Barspoon or swizzle stick
  • Collins or Highball Glass


  • 3 oz Rum Use a white rum, particularly from Trinidad if you have it.
  • 1 tsp Creme de Menthe
  • ¾ oz Fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz Simple syrup
  • 3 dash Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: mint sprig


  • Fill glass three quarters full with finely cracked ice.
  • Add all ingredients but garnish to your trusty cocktail shaker.
  • Add ice to shaker and shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into ice filled glass.
  • Proceed to swizzle with barspoon or swizzle stick. This involves inserting tool of choice into the drink and spinning it between your palms while moving it up and down until the glass frosts.
  • Garnish with mint sprig.
  • Drink.
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