Wagon Wheel Cocktail Recipe

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Wagon Wheel 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 16, 2024


The Wagon Wheel cocktail is a delightful concoction that harks back to the days of the Old West. It's a drink that would have been appreciated by those who enjoyed the sweeter things in life, despite the rough conditions.

  • Origins The exact origins are murky, but it's believed to have been created in the Southern United States.
  • Popularity It gained popularity due to its smooth blend of cognac and Southern Comfort.
  • Fans This cocktail is a favorite among those who appreciate a balance of sweet and sour flavors with a robust kick of alcohol.

How Wagon Wheel Tastes?

The Wagon Wheel offers a harmonious blend of sweet and sour with a notable fruity undertone. The cognac provides a rich, warming base, while the Southern Comfort adds a peachy sweetness. The lemon juice cuts through with a refreshing tartness, and the grenadine offers a hint of pomegranate-like sweetness.

Interesting facts about Wagon Wheel

  • The Wagon Wheel is named after the iconic symbol of the American frontier.
  • This cocktail is often enjoyed during the summer months due to its refreshing qualities.
  • The combination of cognac and Southern Comfort is a nod to the fusion of French and American Southern cultures.



Cognac, a refined choice, brings warmth and depth to the cocktail. Its 1.5 oz measurement is a balancing act, as more could overpower the drink, and less would make it too faint-hearted. Missing cognac? Courageous soul, but brace yourself for a lackluster libation. Alternatives? Try brandy for a similar vibe, although the French may protest.

Alex Green

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort, the charm of the South in liquid form, adds a unique, fruity twist. Without this 1.5 oz of Southern charm, your drink will lose its luscious swagger. Swap it for a peach liqueur to keep the Southern spirit alive but with a more pronounced peach punch.

Emma Rose

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice at 0.75 oz? Sharp yet balanced, lightening up the potion. Don't skimp, or the concoction turns timid; douse too much, and it's like a lemon seeking vengeance. Leaving it out is citrus heresy. Substitute with lime juice for a tangy twirl in the tale.

Mary Mitkina

Grenadine Syrup

Grenadine adds a hint of sweetness and color to the mix at 0.25 oz - it's like the cherry on top, except it's in the drink. Forget it, and it's all just a bit too grown-up. A dash of raspberry syrup could flirt with your taste buds as an alternative, offering a berry twist.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Wagon Wheel Drink

  1. Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour 1.5 oz of cognac, 1.5 oz of Southern Comfort, 0.75 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 0.25 oz of grenadine syrup into the shaker.
  3. Shake vigorously until well chilled.
  4. Fine strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with a lemon wheel or a cherry, if desired.

Pro Tips

  • Always use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Chill the glass before serving to keep the drink colder for longer.
  • If you prefer a less sweet cocktail, reduce the amount of grenadine syrup.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Savory: The Wagon Wheel's sweetness would complement barbecue dishes and Southern cuisine nicely. Try it with some smoked brisket or pulled pork sliders.
  • Spicy: The lemon juice in the cocktail provides a nice acidity that can cut through the heat, making it a good partner for spicy wings or a spicy shrimp gumbo.
  • Sweet: To match the grenadine's sweet notes, pair with a lemon tart or peach cobbler for a delightfully harmonized dessert course.

Drink Pairings

  • Beer: A light lager or a crisp pilsner can act as a palate cleanser between sips of the cocktail.
  • Non-Alcoholic: An iced tea or a lemonade would echo the flavors in the Wagon Wheel, providing a non-alcoholic option that complements its profile.

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What you could change in Wagon Wheel

  • Cognac: If cognac is not available, a good quality brandy can be used as a substitute.
  • Southern Comfort: Peach liqueur can be used as an alternative, though the flavor profile will slightly change.
  • Grenadine Syrup: A homemade pomegranate syrup can replace grenadine for a more authentic taste.

Explore all drinks starting with W here

And of course - twists🍹

The Wild West Wagon

Replace cognac with bourbon for an American twist. The bourbon brings a woodsy, vanilla note to the wagon. Prepare to ride into the sunset, partner.

Georgia Peach Wheel

Swap out Southern Comfort for a good ol' peach schnapps and garnish with a fresh peach slice. It's peachy-keen, and sweeter than a summer romance down in Savannah.

Sour Cherry Roundabout

Use cherry brandy instead of cognac and add an extra 0.25 oz of lemon juice. It's a tart twist that'll make your taste buds do the hokey-pokey and turn itself around.

In case you forgot basics how to make Wagon Wheel

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 Wagon Wheel

What type of glass is best suited for serving a Wagon Wheel cocktail?

A Wagon Wheel cocktail is best served in an Old Fashioned glass, also known as a rocks glass, to accommodate the crushed ice and garnish.

Can I make the Wagon Wheel cocktail in a batch for a party?

Certainly! You can scale up the ingredients proportionately and mix them in a pitcher or jug. Just be sure to add the ice and garnishes individually to each glass when serving, rather than to the batch, to prevent dilution.

What's the best time to serve the Wagon Wheel cocktail?

The Wagon Wheel cocktail, with its refreshing and sweet profile, is ideal for summer gatherings, outdoor barbecues, or as a celebratory drink in any warm-weather occasion.

Is the Wagon Wheel cocktail strong?

With both cognac and Southern Comfort as its base spirits, the Wagon Wheel is considered a moderately strong cocktail. However, the fruit juices and grenadine balance the alcohol content.

Are there any variations to the Wagon Wheel cocktail?

Variations might include using different fruit syrups or citrus juices to put a spin on the original recipe, or adding a dash of bitters for extra depth.

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