Drink of the Week: The Jasmine Cocktail (Paul Harrington’s Original)

The Jasmine Cocktail (per Paul Harrington).When I get into online debates with my fellow left-leaners or culture geeks, I’ll often think to myself (or say in words) that their argument lacks a sense of proportion. Indeed, proportion is possibly the single most important part of any position or, very definitely, any mixed drink. That’s why high-end craft bars will often gladly tell you all the ingredients in a drink while steadfastly refusing to provide the proportions, because therein lies the keys to the cocktail kingdom.

So, that’s how it is I’m presenting two drinks in a row that have the same name and the same ingredients. I would, however, argue that last week’s version of the Jasmine Cocktail, substantially tweaked by Robert Hess, is a much different beverage from this week’s, which was first created in the 1990s by Washington bartender Paul Harrington. It’s definitely much stronger on the lemon flavor and much less so on the contributions of the two liqueurs included in both drinks, but see for yourself.

The Jasmine Cocktail (original version)

1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/4 ounce Campari
1 lemon twist (optional garnish)

Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake very vigoriously and strain into a chilled, smallish cocktail glass. Salute the fruit of the lemon tree, which is impossible to eat on its own, but so darn useful for making so many things taste better.


So, pretty obviously, increasing the amount of fresh lemon juice from 1/2 in the Hess version to 3/4 of an ounce, while radically reducing the Cointreau/triple sec and Campari down to 1/4 ounce from 1 ounce and 3/4 ounce respectively, is going to be make this drink much more lemony tart in flavor. I feared it would be too much that way for me, but I found myself enjoying the original Harrington take on the Jasmine Cocktail. It’s a more refreshing drink, and the very small amounts of orange and bittersweet liqueurs took the edge off just enough.

That was definitely the case when my gin was Tanqueray and also, somewhat surprisingly, Tanqueray Rangpur, which is heavy on lime flavors. Plain old Gordon’s Gin was also just fine. The difference between using Cointreau and triple sec was almost negligible, so I stand by my decision that triple sec is a perfectly good alternative/cheaper orange liqueur for this beverage.

Yes, the Paul Harrington Jasmine is definitely a sturdy drink that’s hard to mess up, though admittedly less interesting and well-balanced than the Robert Hess reboot. It’s not a drink, though, for tartphobes. I guess that would no longer include me. Interesting.