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Rattlesnake Cocktail

One of the popular variations of the whiskey sour cocktail, rattlesnake cocktail first found its mention in London’s Savoy Hotel’s bartender’s manual where it is described as so “because it will either cure rattlesnake bites, or kill rattlesnakes or let you see them.” The sour cocktails are already famous for offering great flexibility and variations. This one needs to be tried for the name alone. 

Well, what is so crazy about rattlesnake cocktails? The fact that it uses absinthe as one of its ingredients makes it a favorite amongst those who love hard cocktails. A Rattlesnake Cocktail brings with it the heat and spice of rye whiskey, the interplay of lemon and sugar along with the herbal complexity of absinthe liquor topped with the classic egg white silkiness. Once tasted, your palate won’t ever forget it!

More about Absinthe, the rattlesnake secret

This is where the drink gets it’s name from, the absinthe liquor. Absinthe is a highly alcoholic spirit which can be green or white in color depending upon how it is distilled. It is made primarily with anise, wormwood and fennel. The high proof spirit has anise as its dominant flavor and a distinct bitterness. Quite a few herbs and botanicals are used in making absinthe, providing it a depth of herbaceous flavors. Traditionally, absinthe liquor is never consumed straight out of the bottle. It is so potent a liquor that it’s consumed with ice cold water, to dilute it and with sugar, to tackle its bitterness.

In cocktails, however, it’s used in very less amounts ranging from a few dashes or drops of it to a rinse of the cocktail glass with absinthe to just add a touch of the herbal edge to the cocktail. One dash of absinthe and your traditional whiskey sour will take on a completely new avatar. 

Wondering which absinthe you could use? Check out our recommendations:

  • Absente Absinthe 110 proof ($47.59) contains strong notes of wormwood and anise. The liquor offers an intense herbaceous taste with light floral aromas and a suggestion of citrus lurk in the backdrop.
  • Duplais Swiss Absinthe Verte ($71.99) is one of the most premium absinthe brands. Duplais uses both Pontarlier and Swiss wormwood along other herbs and botanicals. ‘Verte’ means green in color, the liquor offers beautiful wormwood and fennel notes with hints of coriander spice 
  •  Pernod Absinthe ( $77.99) is one big name in the absinthe market. We have used this one for our recipe. The Pernod absinthe liquor is 136 proof and contains 68% alcohol by volume. A great all round absinthe liquor, Pernod Absinthe offers great anise and herbal flavors without overpowering your palate. 


  • Rye Whiskey – 3 ounces
  • Fresh lemon juice- 2 ounces
  • Simple Syrup – 1 ounce
  • 1 Egg white (optional)
  • Pernod Absinthe – 1 bar spoon
  • Ice cubes


  1. Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake for about 15-30 seconds.
  2. Add ice to the shaker and firmly shake until the shaker is cold from outside.
  3. Strain the drink using a fine sieve into a tumbler glass.
  4. Garnish with an orange peel.
  5. Add ice and serve cold.


Remember the golden rule of sours? It’s as good as the spirit. Using the right whiskey for your rattlesnake cocktail will elevate it to unimaginable levels. Check out our full list of whiskey recommendations or use the ones listed below:

  • Wild Turkey 101 Rye ($22.99) : Wild Turkey offers complex and rich taste profiles with a smooth mouthfeel and a great finish. Preparing a rattlesnake with this one will give you a premium whiskey sour cocktail.
  • Rittenhouse Bonded Rye ($27.99) : Rittenhouse is one of the most loved rye whiskey brands. The 100 proof whiskey brings the distinct rye edge at an affordable price. Moreover, Jim Meehan recommends this whiskey for his recipe of rattlesnake cocktail in “The PDT Cocktail Book : The Complete Bartender’s Guide” in 2011.
  • Redemption Rye ($29.99) : A distinct quality about Redemption Rye whiskey is that it itself has anise notes along with citrus and rye flavors which is sure to work like a charm with the dash of absinthe. Try this one and see for yourselves!


  • Instead of putting a few dashes of absinthe liquor, you can also choose to rinse your tumbler glasses with it. Store some absinthe in a spray bottle. Chill the cocktail glass you are using with some ice. Once it’s cold, discard the ice and one or two sprays of absinthe inside the glass will do. As simple as that. The spray will make sure your absinthe is not wasted and still the glass is adequately coated to provide the subtle flavor and scent.
  • Experimenting with Grade B Maple Syrup as the primary sweetener for the drink will give the cocktail a syrupy maple forward flavor. Not only will it complement the amber color of the whiskey more but also add the depth of it’s sweetness to the drink.

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