The Simple Swap To Lighten Up Your Bijou Cocktail

Every season is cocktail season if you like mixed drinks enough! Seriously, spring is for peach rosé sangrias and a frozen negroni, summer is for some spicy margaritas, autumn is saved for hot toddies, and winter is for spiced Grand Marnier hot chocolate. Prohibition ended almost a century ago, and ever since, Americans have been finding ways to mix up spirits in new ways, but sometimes the old classics dating back before the 1930s are some of the best. Cocktails like a negroni, sidecar, martini, and the Manhattan are all oldies but goodies, and if you like them, or really any boozy three-ingredient mixed drink, you'll love the Bijou cocktail.

The cocktail was invented by Harry Johnson during the late 19th century and is supposed to taste crisp, herbaceous, a little sweet, and, well, boozy, per Vintage American Cocktails. It is traditionally served with the addition of some orange bitters and a cherry, but not everyone can handle the intensity of this drink; luckily, there is an easy way to lighten it up.

Sweet vermouth isn't for everyone

Before we tell you what to swap out of the Bijou, it's important to know what makes up a classic Bijou cocktail recipe. According to A Couple Cooks, the mixed drink is named for the jew-like colors of the liquors used in its creation. It is a blend of gin (which is diamond in color), sweet vermouth (which is red colored and goes at the bottom of the glass), and chartreuse (which is a French herbal liqueur that comes in emerald).

The intense boozy aspect of the Bijou cocktail can be a little overwhelming for the casual drinker, especially the sweet vermouth which can have a nice spicy sweetness but also have an unmistakable bitter note at the end. Punch suggests that if you want to lighten up your drink, you should switch out the sweet vermouth with something drier. For example, you could try equal parts Grand Marnier and dry vermouth with Angostura bitters instead or replace the sweet vermouth with Bordiga extra-dry vermouth, which is herbaceous and crisp.