Nikolashka Cocktail Recipe

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Nikolashka 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 Nikolashka cocktail is a classic Russian drink, named after Tsar Nicholas II. It is said to have been his favorite cocktail and was often served at royal gatherings and events. The drink is known for its unique combination of flavors and its elegant presentation.

  • The cocktail is believed to have been created in the late 19th century
  • It was popular among the Russian aristocracy and high society
  • The drink is often associated with celebrations and special occasions

How Nikolashka Tastes?

The Nikolashka cocktail has a complex and sophisticated taste, combining sweet, sour, and bitter flavors. It is a well-balanced drink with a smooth, velvety texture and a warming sensation from the cognac.

Interesting facts about Nikolashka

  • The name 'Nikolashka' is a diminutive form of 'Nicholas' in Russian
  • The cocktail is traditionally served in a chilled coupe glass
  • The lemon and sugar garnish is meant to be eaten after finishing the drink, as a palate cleanser


  • Cognac: 2 oz(60ml)
  • Lemon: 1
  • White sugar: 1tsp


A dignified spirit, cognac is the heart of the Nikolashka—nobility in a glass, if you will. At 2oz, the cognac isn't there to just tickle your taste buds; it's the commander of the flavor battalion. Too little and the lemon will start a mutiny; too much, and it's like a coup d'état against your palate. Leave it out? That's not even a Nikolashka; that's just sadness with a lemon wedge.

Mary Mitkina


This citrus sentinel stands guard against the richness of the cognac, its acidity slicing through like a saber. It's the zest in your fest and the tang in your twang. Remove the pulp or forget it altogether, and you'll miss the refreshing high note that brightens the cocktail's symphony.

Emma Rose

White Sugar

Call it the peacemaker—a teaspoon of sugar doesn't just help the medicine go down; it builds a bridge between the bold cognac and the tart lemon. Balance is key. Too much sugar, and you're entering candy land; too little, and it's a tart takeover. Swap it for brown sugar, and you'll add a molasses twist—interesting, but you'll be rewriting history.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Nikolashka Drink

  1. Chill a coupe glass in the freezer for at least 10 minutes
  2. Pour 2oz of cognac into a mixing glass
  3. Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled
  4. Strain the cognac into the chilled coupe glass
  5. Cut a thin slice of lemon and remove the peel, leaving only the pulp
  6. Dip one side of the lemon slice into white sugar
  7. Float the sugared lemon slice on top of the cognac in the glass
  8. Serve immediately and instruct the drinker to eat the lemon slice after finishing the cocktail

Pro Tips

  • Use high-quality cognac for the best flavor
  • Chill the glass well before serving to enhance the taste
  • Eat the lemon slice after finishing the drink for a unique taste experience

Perfect Pairings


  • Cheese platters: A mix of nutty and aged cheeses complements the rich flavor of the cognac.
  • Dark chocolate: The bitterness can be a delightful contrast to the sweetness of the sugar and the citrus note of lemon.
  • Smoked salmon: The richness of smoked fish often pairs well with the subtle botanicals in the cognac.

Main Courses

  • Grilled steak: Bold meat flavors work well with the intensity of a good cognac.
  • Roast duck: The high fat content and savory taste will play nicely with the cocktail's lemon and sugar notes.


  • Creme Brulee: The burnt sugar on top matches the caramel notes of the cognac while the creaminess balances the acidity of the lemon.
  • Tarte Tatin: The caramelized sweetness of the apples pairs pleasantly with the smoothness of the cognac.

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What you could change in Nikolashka

  • Cognac: Can be replaced with Brandy
  • White sugar: Can be replaced with Brown sugar or Honey
  • Lemon: Can be replaced with Lime

Explore all drinks starting with N here

And of course - twists🍹

Espresso Nikolashka

  • Add a 1/2 oz of espresso to the cognac before stirring with ice. This will create a coffee-infused concoction that'll wake you up before it tucks you in. The warmth of the coffee complements the depth of the cognac, while the sugar-lemon garnish now nods towards your favorite breakfast.

Spiced Lemon Nikolashka

  • Muddle a dash of cinnamon and a clove with the lemon before laying it atop the cognac. This version will have a whisper of winter holidays and cozy fireside chats infused in each sip. The spice brings education, depth, and a hint of mystery to the party.

Honeyed Nikolashka

  • Swap out white sugar for a drizzle of honey on your lemon slice. This subtle switch introduces a floral bouquet to your snifter. The viscosity of the honey will also create a lingering sweetness that'll have you reminiscing about lazy summer days.

In case you forgot basics how to make Nikolashka

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

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Frequently Asked Questions on Nikolashka

Why is there a tradition of eating the lemon after the Nikolashka cocktail?

Eating the lemon after the Nikolashka cocktail is a unique tradition which helps to cleanse the palate. It allows the drinker to fully enjoy the crisp and complex taste of the cocktail, and prepare themselves for the next course or drink.

What other beverages pair well with the Nikolashka?

The Nikolashka pairs well with light appetizers and can be complemented by a glass of full bodied red wine or a dark beer such as a stout or porter.

Is there a non-alcoholic alternative to the Nikolashka cocktail?

For a non-alcoholic alternative, you could substitute the cognac with a mixture of apple and grape juice, which gives a similar warmth and rich flavor.

Which foods go well with the Nikolashka cocktail?

Nikolashka pairs well with rich, savory dishes like Beef Stroganoff or Chicken Kiev. It also complements cured meats, mild cheeses and dark chocolate.

What’s the etiquette for drinking Nikolashka at a formal event?

At a formal event, Nikolashka is often served at the end of the meal, as a digestive. The drink is sipped, not downed, and the sugary lemon slice is eaten after finishing the drink.

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