Opera Cocktail Recipe

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Opera Nutrition Facts





Alcohol %:22

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 Opera cocktail has its origins in the early 20th century, and is said to have been created in Paris, France. It is a classic cocktail that has been enjoyed by many over the years, including famous artists, writers, and musicians.

  • The name 'Opera' is believed to have been inspired by the glamorous world of opera performances, which were popular during the time of its creation.
  • The cocktail was particularly popular during the 1920s and 1930s, and was often enjoyed by the elite and sophisticated crowd.
  • The Opera cocktail has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, as modern bartenders rediscover and reinterpret classic cocktails.

How Opera Tastes?

The Opera cocktail is a harmonious blend of sweet, bitter, and fruity flavors. It has a rich, velvety texture and a complex taste profile that is both refreshing and satisfying.

Interesting facts about Opera

  • The Opera cocktail is sometimes referred to as the 'French Manhattan' due to its similarities in flavor and ingredients to the classic Manhattan cocktail.
  • The original recipe for the Opera cocktail called for Dubonnet, a French aperitif wine, but it is now more commonly made with sweet vermouth.
  • The Opera cocktail is traditionally served in a chilled martini or coupe glass, which adds to its elegant presentation.


A few good options for Opera are:

  • Brockmans
  • Silent Pool Gin
  • Hendrick's Gin

Learn everything on which Gin to choose


  • Why 1.5 oz?: It's the base spirit and provides structure. Any less and the gin's botanical notes could be overpowered; more and you risk an overly boozy drink.
  • Flavor enhancement: It offers a herbaceous backbone that defines the cocktail.
  • Without it: You'd lose the drink's soul. If gin isn't your thing, try vodka, but expect a less complex flavor.

Emma Rose

Sweet Vermouth

  • Why 0.75 oz?: It's there to balance the gin and add sweetness without overwhelming.
  • Flavor enhancement: Vermouth brings herbaceous, wine-like qualities to the party.
  • Without it: The cocktail loses its smooth and sweet nuances. A possible substitute could be a different fortified wine, say, dry vermouth, but your drink will be a tad dryer.

Mary Mitkina

Maraschino Liqueur

  • Why 0.25 oz?: A small amount is enough to impart its distinctive cherry almond flavor.
  • Flavor enhancement: Adds a subtle fruitiness and complexity.
  • Without it: You'd miss an integral layer of flavor. Substituting it with kirsch could work, but expect stronger alcohol and less sweetness.

Alex Green

Orange Bitters

  • Why 2 dashes?: Just a hint is needed to give depth.
  • Flavor enhancement: They provide a spicy, citrusy undertone.
  • Without it: The cocktail would be less complex, somewhat flat. Grapefruit bitters could be a zesty alternative but will change the flavor profile.

Emma Rose

Lemon Twist

  • Why 1?: It's the fragrant garnish that brightens the drink.
  • Flavor enhancement: The oils expressed over the cocktail add a fresh zing.
  • Without it: It would be like a suit without a tie – still good, but not fully dressed. No real alternatives, maybe an orange peel, but that'd be a different outfit altogether.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Opera Drink

  1. Chill the glass: Place a martini or coupe glass in the freezer for a few minutes to chill.
  2. Mix the ingredients: In a mixing glass, combine the gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters.
  3. Stir: Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir the mixture for 20-30 seconds, until well chilled and diluted.
  4. Strain: Remove the chilled glass from the freezer and strain the cocktail into the glass.
  5. Garnish: Express a lemon twist over the cocktail to release its oils, then discard the twist or place it on the rim of the glass.

Pro Tips

  • Use high-quality ingredients: The taste of your cocktail will largely depend on the quality of the ingredients you use. Opt for high-quality gin and vermouth for the best results.
  • Chill your glass: This will help keep your cocktail cold for longer, enhancing its taste.
  • Don't rush the stirring: Stirring the cocktail for the right amount of time is crucial for achieving the perfect dilution and temperature.

Perfect Pairings


  • Hard cheeses: The botanicals in gin and the complexity of vermouth can complement the nuttiness of aged cheeses such as Parmesan or Gruyere.


  • Cured meats: The saltiness of cured meats like prosciutto can balance the sweetness of the maraschino liqueur and the bitterness of the orange bitters.


  • Grilled shrimp: The citrus notes from the lemon twist and the orange bitters can enhance the flavors of seafood, particularly lemon-accented dishes.


  • Chocolate desserts: The sweetness and the slight bitterness of the drink can pair nicely with dark chocolate.


  • Almonds or hazelnuts: Nuts with a hint of sweetness can be a great complement to the nutty and fruity notes of the cocktail.

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What you could change in Opera

  • Gin: If you don't have gin, you can use vodka as a substitute. However, this will alter the taste of the cocktail.
  • Sweet Vermouth: If you don't have sweet vermouth, you can use dry vermouth, but this will make the cocktail less sweet.
  • Maraschino Liqueur: If you don't have maraschino liqueur, you can use a cherry-flavored liqueur instead.

Explore all drinks starting with O here

And of course - twists🍹

Smoky Opera

  • Ingredients: Replace gin with mezcal.
  • Recipe: Follow the original recipe substituting gin with an equal amount of mezcal.
  • Flavor change: Adds a smoky depth which plays against the sweetness of the maraschino.
  • How to make it: Just as you would the original, but with mezcal's unique smoky notes, it’s like the difference between a classic romance and a film noir.

Green Fairy Opera

  • Ingredients: Use absinthe instead of gin.
  • Recipe: Swap out the gin for absinthe, but be careful as absinthe is stronger: maybe use just 1 oz.
  • Flavor change: Introduces a potent, herbal complexity.
  • How to make it: This is the bohemian cousin of the original - a bit more mysterious and definitely more intense.

Citrus Burst Opera

  • Ingredients: Add a splash of fresh orange juice and use a grapefruit twist instead of lemon.
  • Recipe: Combine gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters as usual. Add a splash of orange juice. Stir well, strain, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
  • Flavor change: The additional citrus gives a refreshing zing and a more pronounced fruit-forward profile.
  • How to make it: Like a sunny day in the park compared to a classy evening at the opera, this version is for those looking for a little extra Vitamin C with their symphony.

In case you forgot basics how to make Opera

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 Opera

What is the best type of gin to use for an Opera cocktail?

While any high-quality gin can be used to make an Opera cocktail, some bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts might prefer using a standard dry gin for its classic and balanced flavor.

Could I use a different type of bitters in this cocktail?

The recipe calls for orange bitters which give the Opera cocktail its unique flavor. However, you can experiment with other types of bitters to switch up the flavor.

Can I make the Opera cocktail ahead of time for a party?

It's best to make the Opera cocktail fresh, to enjoy the full richness of its flavors. However, you could potentially pre-mix the gin, sweet vermouth, and maraschino liqueur and chill this, adding the bitters and garnish when serving.

What other cocktails might I enjoy if I like the Opera cocktail?

If you enjoy the Opera, you might like other gin-based cocktails such as the Negroni or Martinez, which also feature a mix of sweet, bitter, and fruity flavors.

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