Thunder Bird Cocktail Recipe

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Thunder Bird Nutrition Facts





Alcohol %:40

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 Thunder Bird cocktail is a classic cocktail that originated in the 1950s. It was created by a bartender named Joe Scialom, who was known for his innovative and unique cocktail creations. This cocktail is perfect for those who enjoy a strong, citrusy cocktail with a hint of sweetness.

  • Origin: 1950s
  • Creator: Joe Scialom
  • Preferred by: Those who enjoy strong, citrusy cocktails

How Thunder Bird Tastes?

The Thunder Bird cocktail is strong, citrusy, and slightly sweet. It has a robust flavor profile with a hint of tartness from the lemon juice and a subtle sweetness from the sugar syrup.

Interesting facts about Thunder Bird

  • The Thunder Bird cocktail was named after the mythical creature, Thunderbird, in Native American folklore.
  • Joe Scialom, the creator of the Thunder Bird cocktail, was also the creator of the famous Long Island Iced Tea.
  • The Thunder Bird cocktail is often served in a highball glass with a lemon wheel garnish.


A few good options for Thunder Bird are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose


Vodka is the spirit base for the Thunder Bird, providing a clean, neutral canvas for the other flavors. It's important to use a good quality vodka so it doesn't overshadow the delicate balance of lemon and sweetness. If you pour less, you won't feel the kick; more, and you'll snuff out the citrus flair.

Emma Rose

Lemon Juice

Freshly squeezed lemon juice is key here for that bright, zesty pop. It cuts through the vodka and adds a layer of complexity. Without it, you lose the cocktail's soul, ending up with a bland spirit-sugar mix. Substitute lime for a twister sister version.

Alex Green

Sugar Syrup

The sweet counterpart to lemon's tartness, sugar syrup smooths out the edges. Too little and your face puckers more than a gossiping aunt, too much and you're in candyland. Simple syrup can be swapped with honey or agave for a twist with a richer sweetness profile.

Mary Mitkina

Ice Cubes

Ice is not just a chiller; it's also a diluter. It tempers the alcohol and balances the flavors. No ice means a strong, warm sip that could knock your socks off. In a pinch, chilled vodka and ingredients can sub in for a less diluted version.

Emma Rose

Lemon Wheel

A garnish that isn't just a pretty face, it's an aromatic invitation. A missing lemon wheel won't ruin the drink but forgoes that final zesty hello. An orange or lime wheel adds a new fragrance and a hint of exotic flair.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Thunder Bird Drink

  1. Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Add vodka, lemon juice, and sugar syrup to the shaker.
  3. Shake well until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a highball glass filled with ice cubes.
  5. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

Pro Tips

  • Always use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Shake the cocktail well to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Use a high-quality vodka for a smoother taste.

Perfect Pairings


  • Smoked Salmon: The rich, oily flavour of the salmon is cut through by the sharpness of the lemon in the Thunder Bird, creating a harmonious balance.
  • Fried Calamari: The cocktail's acidity pairs perfectly with fried seafood, cleansing the palate after each bite.

Main Courses

  • Grilled Chicken: The simplicity of grilled chicken is enlivened by the zesty and crisp notes of the Thunder Bird.
  • Pasta with Cream Sauce: The lemony tang of the cocktail cuts through the richness of cream sauces.


  • Lemon Sorbet: Echo the citrus notes in the dessert by pairing it with this citrus-forward cocktail for a refreshing end to a meal.

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What you could change in Thunder Bird

  • Vodka: You can substitute vodka with gin or tequila for a different flavor profile.
  • Lemon Juice: If you don't have fresh lemons, you can use bottled lemon juice. However, fresh lemon juice will give a better flavor.
  • Sugar Syrup: You can substitute sugar syrup with honey or agave syrup.

Explore all drinks starting with T here

And of course - twists🍹

Berry Bird

  • Add a handful of mixed berries to the shaker before adding the other ingredients. Muddle them gently to release their juice.
  • Follow the original recipe, straining the cocktail to remove berry pieces.
  • The result is a fruity twist, with notes of summer berries playing off the sharpness of the vodka and lemon.

Spicy Thunder

  • Infuse your vodka with chili peppers for a few hours before making the cocktail.
  • Use this spicy vodka in the original recipe.
  • A bold kick of heat will now liven up each sip, offering a warm contrast to the crispness of the lemon juice.

Herbal Haven

  • Add a sprig of fresh thyme or basil to the shaker with the vodka to infuse its herbal notes.
  • Shake as usual and strain into your glass.
  • This herbal twist introduces a savory note, adding depth and an aromatic quality that complements the citrus flavors beautifully.

In case you forgot basics how to make Thunder Bird

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 Thunder Bird

Is there a non-alcoholic version of the Thunder Bird cocktail?

Yes, you can substitute the vodka with a non-alcoholic spirit or simply omit it. The lemon juice and sugar syrup will still give it a pleasant citrusy and sweet flavor.

What other garnish can be used in the Thunder Bird cocktail?

While the lemon wheel is a traditional garnish, you can also use a sprig of mint or a cherry for a different look and taste.

Can the Thunder Bird cocktail be made in advance?

It's best to make the Thunder Bird cocktail fresh so the ice doesn't dilute the flavors. However, you can mix the vodka, lemon juice and sugar syrup in advance and store it in the fridge. Add the ice just before serving.

Is there a reason to use a highball glass for the Thunder Bird cocktail?

Highball glasses are traditionally used for cocktails with a high proportion of non-alcoholic mixer. In the case of the Thunder Bird, the glass allows enough room for the ice cubes and the lemon wheel garnish.

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