Red Lion Cocktail Recipe

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Red Lion 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 Red Lion cocktail is believed to have been created in the 1930s by Arthur Tarling, a bartender at the Café Royal in London. This classic cocktail has been enjoyed by many over the years, particularly those who appreciate a well-balanced, slightly sweet and sour drink. The Red Lion has even won several awards, including the 1933 International Cocktail Competition.

  • The Red Lion is a classic cocktail with a rich history
  • Created by Arthur Tarling in the 1930s
  • Has won several awards, including the 1933 International Cocktail Competition

How Red Lion Tastes?

The Red Lion cocktail offers a delightful balance of sweet and sour flavors, with a hint of bitterness from the gin. The orange liqueur adds a citrusy sweetness, while the lemon juice provides a refreshing tartness. The grenadine gives the drink a subtle fruity sweetness, making it a well-rounded and enjoyable cocktail.

Interesting facts about Red Lion

  • The Red Lion is sometimes called the 'King of Cocktails' due to its award-winning status
  • The cocktail's name is thought to have been inspired by the popular British pub name, 'The Red Lion'
  • The Red Lion is often served in a cocktail glass, showcasing its vibrant red color


A few good options for Red Lion are:

  • Brockmans
  • Silent Pool Gin
  • Hendrick's Gin

Learn everything on which Gin to choose


Gin is the backbone of the Red Lion, providing a complex botanical base. At 1.5oz, it's just enough to assert its presence without overpowering the drink. If you skimp on the gin, your lion might purr rather than roar, making for a less robust cocktail. Alternative: Try a botanical vodka for a similar profile with a cleaner finish.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Liqueur

At 0.75oz, orange liqueur brings a sweet citrus punch, and acts as a bridge between the gin and lemon flavors. Less liqueur can lead to a tart imbalance, while more may make it cloyingly sweet. Alternative: A splash of Cointreau or Triple Sec can substitute based on your sweet preference.

Alex Green

Lemon Juice

This 0.75oz of lemon juice is crucial for the zesty tang that balances the drink's sweetness. A Red Lion with too little lemon juice could be excessively sweet; too much, and the cocktail becomes a lemonade with a kick. Alternative: Lime juice could be used for a tarter, more tropical twist.

Emma Rose


The 0.5oz of grenadine adds not just sweetness, but a rosy hue to our lion's mane. Missing out will leave your cocktail lacking depth and color. Alternative: Pomegranate syrup can be used as a less sugary substitute, giving a similar color with a tarter taste.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Twist

The orange twist isn't just for show; the oils add an aromatic quality to the drink. Without it, the cocktail loses a layer of complexity. No alternatives here - a Red Lion’s mane should be as radiant as its roar!

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Red Lion Drink

  1. Chill a cocktail glass by filling it with ice and setting it aside
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the following ingredients:
    • 1.5oz gin
    • 0.75oz orange liqueur
    • 0.75oz lemon juice
    • 0.5oz grenadine
  3. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds
  4. Discard the ice from the chilled cocktail glass
  5. Strain the mixture into the chilled cocktail glass
  6. Garnish with an orange twist

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lemon juice for a more vibrant flavor
  • Shake vigorously to ensure all ingredients are well mixed
  • Chill the glass before serving to keep the cocktail cold longer

Perfect Pairings


  • Cheese Platter: The citrus and botanical notes of the Red Lion complement the creaminess of cheeses like Brie and Gouda.
  • Fried Calamari: The crisp acidity of the cocktail cuts through the richness of the fried batter.

Main Courses

  • Grilled White Fish: A delicate fish pairs nicely with the lemon and gin flavors, without overpowering the dish.
  • Lemon Herb Chicken: The lemon component of the drink will resonate with the citrusy marinade of the chicken.


  • Fruit Tart: The Red Lion's sweet and tart profile will echo the dessert's fruity sweetness.
  • Sorbet: A light, citrus-based sorbet will refresh the palate in between sips of the cocktail.

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What you could change in Red Lion

  • Gin: Can be replaced with vodka for a smoother taste
  • Orange Liqueur: Triple sec can be used as a substitute
  • Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice can be used for a different citrus twist
  • Grenadine: Raspberry syrup can be used for a different fruity flavor

Explore all drinks starting with R here

And of course - twists🍹

Berry Lion

To berry-fy the classic, swap grenadine for blackberry syrup. Add some muddled fresh berries before shaking. This will give the Red Lion a fruitier and more seasonal feel, perfect for late summer evenings.

Green Lion

Give the cocktail an herbal upgrade by using Green Chartreuse in place of orange liqueur, and basil instead of an orange twist. This twist offers an intriguing depth with herbal notes that will make the cocktail more savory and complex.

Spiced Lion

Introduce a warm dimension by adding a dash of cinnamon and replacing grenadine with honey syrup. This wintery variant transforms the Red Lion into a more soul-warming concoction, ideal for chilly nights by the fireplace.

In case you forgot basics how to make Red Lion

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 Red Lion

Can I drink Red Lion if I am allergic to some fruits?

You should always check the ingredients of a cocktail before consuming it. If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the Red Lion (gin, orange liqueur, lemon juice, grenadine, or orange), it's better to avoid it.

Does Red Lion have a high alcohol content?

The Red Lion cocktail has around 20% alcohol, mixed with non-alcoholic ingredients. It's isn't as strong as drinking a shot of spirits, but it's higher in alcohol content than many beers or wines.

Is it considered a 'girly' or 'manly' drink?

Cocktails, including the Red Lion, are enjoyed by people regardless of gender. The distinct sweet and sour balance of flavors make it a universally appealing drink.

Why do I need to shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker?

Shaking a cocktail in a shaker helps to thoroughly mix the ingredients, chill the drink, and dilute the cocktail just a bit for a smoother taste.

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