Merry Widow Cocktail Recipe

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Merry Widow 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 Merry Widow cocktail is a classic drink that dates back to the early 20th century. It is named after the famous operetta 'The Merry Widow' by Franz Lehár, which premiered in 1905. This cocktail was popular among the high society and was often enjoyed at elegant parties and events.

  • The Merry Widow is a sophisticated and elegant cocktail, perfect for those who appreciate the finer things in life.
  • It has a rich history and is often associated with glamour and luxury.
  • The cocktail has been enjoyed by many famous figures throughout history, including members of royalty and Hollywood stars.

How Merry Widow Tastes?

The Merry Widow cocktail has a complex and well-balanced taste. It is slightly sweet, with a hint of bitterness from the vermouth. The herbal notes from the bitters and the warmth of the brandy create a smooth and satisfying finish.

Interesting facts about Merry Widow

  • The Merry Widow cocktail is often served in a martini glass, which adds to its elegance and sophistication.
  • The drink is sometimes garnished with a lemon twist or cherry, adding a touch of color and visual appeal.
  • The Merry Widow is a versatile cocktail that can be enjoyed before or after dinner, making it a popular choice for a variety of occasions.


A few good options for Merry Widow are:

  • Brockmans
  • Silent Pool Gin
  • Hendrick's Gin

Learn everything on which Gin to choose


Using 2oz of Gin is ideal, providing a robust base without overpowering. Gin brings the core flavor with its various botanicals. No gin, no merry! Substitute with vodka for a more neutral taste, or a flavored gin for an adventurous twist.

Alex Green

Dry Vermouth

1oz of Dry Vermouth tempers the gin and adds a slightly floral note. Skipping it would throw off the balance, making the drink too strong. A sweet vermouth would sweeten the mix, introducing new, richer dimensions.

Mary Mitkina


Half an ounce of Benedictine adds depth with its honeyed, herbal complexity. If you omit it, you'll miss on layers of flavor, but if you want something a bit spicier, try replacing it with Chartreuse.

Emma Rose

Angostura Bitters

Just 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters bring in a touch of spice and a bit of mystique. Leaving it out would make the drink flatter, but you could use aromatic bitters for a similar effect.

Alex Green

Orange Bitters

Matching the Angostura with 2 dashes of Orange Bitters accentuates the citrus notes and adds brightness. Ignore these and lose some zing, or swap for grapefruit bitters to add a tart edge.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Twist

The Lemon Twist garnish isn't just for looks! Its oils add a fresh scent and zesty flavor. Sans twist, your drink is like a garden without flowers. Switch it up with an orange peel for a sweeter aroma.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Merry Widow Drink

  1. Chill a martini glass by filling it with ice and water, and set it aside.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters.
  3. Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir the ingredients until well chilled.
  4. Empty the martini glass and strain the cocktail into the glass.
  5. Garnish with a lemon twist by expressing the oils over the drink and placing it on the rim of the glass.

Pro Tips

  • Use high-quality ingredients. The taste of your cocktail will greatly depend on the quality of the gin, vermouth, and Benedictine you use.
  • Chill your glass. This will help keep your cocktail cold for a longer period of time.
  • Stir, don't shake. This will prevent the cocktail from becoming too diluted.

Perfect Pairings


  • Cheese plates: The herbal notes of the Benedictine and the bitters play well with creamy and strong cheeses alike.
  • Sushi: A classic like the Merry Widow pairs nicely with the clean taste of sushi, especially varieties with a hint of citrus or avocado.
  • Charcuterie: Salty and savory cured meats balance the slight sweetness and botanical elements of the cocktail.

Main Courses

  • Grilled white fish: Light flavors in the fish are complemented by the drink's complex characters.
  • Roast chicken: The aromatic botanicals in gin pair nicely with the delicate flavors of chicken.


  • Lemon tart: The lemon twist in the drink will echo the citrus flavors in the tart.
  • Almond cookies: Nutty flavors stand up to and complement the herbs and spices from the Benedictine and bitters.

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What you could change in Merry Widow

  • Gin: You can substitute the gin with vodka for a different taste.
  • Dry Vermouth: If you don't have dry vermouth, you can use sweet vermouth, but this will make the cocktail sweeter.
  • Benedictine: If you don't have Benedictine, you can use a different herbal liqueur, such as Chartreuse.

Explore all drinks starting with M here

And of course - twists🍹

Rosemary Widow

  • Replace the lemon twist with a small sprig of rosemary.
  • Add 1/2 oz of rosemary simple syrup. This version adds an aromatic, woody touch that pairs well with herbaceous gin, making it an ideal companion for those chilly evenings.

Spicy Widow

  • Add 1/2 oz of ginger liqueur.
  • Include a thin slice of chili pepper as garnish. The ginger introduces a warm, spicy kick, perfect for those looking to add a little fire to their sip.

Citrus Widow

  • Use lemon-infused gin instead of regular gin.
  • Garnish with a thin slice of lemon or a lemon wheel. Bright and sunshiny, this citrus-forward variant is a summer delight and refreshingly tangy.

In case you forgot basics how to make Merry Widow

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

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

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 Merry Widow

What does Benedictine add to the Merry Widow cocktail?

Benedictine, a French herbal liqueur, adds depth and complexity to the cocktail. It has a unique flavor profile that includes notes of honey, herbs, spices, and citrus peel, which complements the gin and vermouth beautifully.

Is there a specific type of gin that works best in the Merry Widow cocktail?

The Merry Widow can be made with any type of gin. However, a higher-quality gin, ideally one that is citrus-forward or has a moderate juniper note, would elevate the cocktail's flavor.

I’ve heard the term 'expressing' when it comes to garnishing cocktails, what does that mean?

Expressing is a term often used when garnishing cocktails with citrus. It describes the process of releasing the citrus's essential oils over the cocktail, adding a fresh aroma and subtle flavor.

What type of occasion is the Merry Widow cocktail suitable for?

Due to its elegance and sophistication, the Merry Widow is best suited for formal gatherings, dinner parties, or intimate soirees. It can also work as an after-dinner digestif.

Why is it important not to shake but to stir the Merry Widow cocktail?

Stirring is the recommended method for this cocktail to incorporate the ingredients without aerating the mix. Shaking could make the drink cloudy and would alter its delicate balance.

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