Dempsey Cocktail Recipe

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Dempsey Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Dempsey cocktail is named after the famous American boxer, Jack Dempsey, who was the World Heavyweight Champion from 1919 to 1926. This classic cocktail was created during the Prohibition era and was popular among the high society of the time. It is a perfect blend of sweet and sour flavors, with a hint of bitterness from the Calvados and the herbal notes of the Chartreuse.

  • The cocktail was created in the 1920s
  • It was popular among the high society during the Prohibition era
  • Named after the famous American boxer, Jack Dempsey

How Dempsey Tastes?

The Dempsey cocktail has a complex flavor profile, with a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and bitter notes. The apple brandy adds a fruity sweetness, while the lemon juice provides a refreshing tartness. The herbal Chartreuse and the bitter Calvados give the drink a unique depth of flavor.

Interesting facts about Dempsey

  • The cocktail is named after a famous boxer, which might suggest that it packs a punch in terms of flavor and strength
  • The use of apple brandy and Calvados gives the Dempsey a unique fruity and bitter taste
  • The Chartreuse adds an herbal complexity to the cocktail


Apple Brandy

Apple brandy adds a fruity warmth to the cocktail. Its sweet apple notes are the backbone, and at 1.5oz, it's the star. Use less, and you'll miss the apple orchard; use more, and you'll feel like you're bobbing for apples in a barrel!

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Juice

Nothing like 0.75oz of lemon juice to add a zing! It balances the sweetness, prevents the cocktail from being cloying, and sharpens the profile. Less will leave it too sweet; more might lead to a sour face.

Mary Mitkina

Simple Syrup

At 0.5oz, simple syrup sweetens the deal without stealing the show. Without it, the cocktail might pucker your lips more than a first kiss. Too much, and it's like a sugar rush from stealing candy.

Alex Green

Green Chartreuse

This 0.25oz herbal liqueur is like that person who whispers a secret—it's subtle but impactful. Omit it, and the cocktail loses a layer of mystique. No alternative here; you need that secret whisper of complexity.

Mary Mitkina


Also at 0.25oz, Calvados reinforces the apple theme—a cameo appearance that adds depth. Without it, the drink is like an apple pie without the cinnamon—still good, but missing some oomph.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura Bitters

Just 2 dashes; think of it as the spice rack of the cocktail world. It adds a je ne sais quoi that leaves you wondering. Forget these, and the cocktail lacks a certain sparkle, like a sky without stars.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Dempsey Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Add the apple brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup, green Chartreuse, Calvados, and Angostura bitters
  3. Shake well until chilled
  4. Strain into a chilled coupe glass
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist

Pro Tips

  • Shake the cocktail well to ensure all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Use fresh lemon juice for a more refreshing taste.
  • Chill the coupe glass before pouring the cocktail to keep it cool for longer.

Perfect Pairings

Cheese & Charcuterie

Pair the Dempsey with artisanal cheeses and charcuterie. The fruitiness of apple brandy and Calvados balance well with creamy cheeses, while the acidity from the lemon juice cuts through fatty meats.

Savory Appetizers

Opt for savory appetizers like mini quiches or bruschetta. The herbal notes of green Chartreuse complement fresh herbs in these dishes, and the cocktail's bright flavors will prepare the palate for more.


Apple-based desserts, such as apple tart or crumble, can enhance the apple notes in the cocktail. A lemon sorbet would also provide a refreshing contrast to the cocktail's complexity.

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What you could change in Dempsey

  • You can substitute Apple Brandy with Applejack or Calvados.
  • Simple Syrup can be replaced with honey or agave syrup.
  • If you don't have Green Chartreuse, you can use Yellow Chartreuse or any other herbal liqueur.

Explore all drinks starting with D here

And of course - twists🍹

Spiced Apple Dempsey

  • Add a cinnamon stick: During shaking, include a cinnamon stick to introduce warm spiced notes.
  • Garnish with an apple fan: Instead of a lemon twist, fan out thin slices of apple for a festive look and a nod to the drink's apple profile.
  • This twist emphasizes the apple character of the cocktail, making it feel like autumn in a glass.

Garden Dempsey

  • Muddle fresh herbs: Before shaking, muddle some fresh basil or thyme in the shaker to infuse an herb garden essence.
  • Garnish with a sprig: Use a fresh sprig of the herb you muddled as a garnish for a garden-fresh presentation.
  • This version gives a more herbal and earthy profile, a perfect match for a springtime soiree.

Citrus Dempsey

  • Increase lemon juice to 1oz: Enhance the citrus tang by adjusting the lemon juice.
  • Add a splash of orange liqueur: A small splash (about 0.25oz) adds a new citrus dimension.
  • Garnish with an orange twist: An orange twist contributes a brighter, fruity accent and fragrance.
  • Dialing up the citrus makes the drink more refreshing and zesty, perfect for hot summer days or as a palate cleanser.

In case you forgot basics how to make Dempsey

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Dempsey

What is the origin of the name 'Dempsey' for this cocktail?

The cocktail is named after the famous American boxer Jack Dempsey.

What type of glass should I serve the Dempsey in?

The Dempsey is traditionally served in a coupe glass.

I have a nut allergy. Does the Apple Brandy or Green Chartreuse in the Dempsey contain nuts?

As far as the ingredients stated, none contains nuts. However, please check the labels of all alcoholic beverages you use as manufacturing processes can vary.

Are there any non-alcoholic substitute for the alcohol in the Dempsey?

While there is no perfect substitution for the depth of flavor that alcohol provides to a cocktail, you can use apple juice instead of apple brandy, lemon juice for the lemon, and a mix of herbal tea for the green chartreuse. Remember, the final taste of the cocktail will vary.

Is the Dempsey considered a sour cocktail?

The Dempsey can indeed be considered a sour cocktail, as it contains lemon juice for acidity in addition to the sweet and bitter elements.

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