Classic Fitzgerald Cocktail Recipe

The Fitzgerald cocktail is a drink you may not know by name, but have most likely had, even if by accident. Essentially a gin lemonade, the Fitzgerald is a riff on a gin sour made with bitters, instead of egg whites. It's sweet, a little sour, and very easy to put together in mere minutes. It's a good drink to serve to guests who are new to the cocktail scene because of its simplicity and familiar flavor profile. Anyone who enjoys lemonade is likely to love the Fitzgerald, so it's an easy classic to keep on hand.

While the Fitzgerald is indeed considered a classic cocktail, it was actually only introduced in the 90s by Rainbow Room bartender Dale Degroff as a "Gin Thing" (via Make Me a Cocktail). The name evolved, thanks to customer suggestions, to the more elegant Fitzgerald — an ode to the author's love of simple gin drinks. Developer Michelle McGlinn shares this classic cocktail recipe below, offering variations and garnishing options to dress up the drink. It's a good one to keep in mind for easy entertaining, so read on below to learn the recipe.

Gather the ingredients for a Fitzgerald cocktail

Especially if you're a cocktail aficionado, it's likely you already have all the ingredients on hand for a Fitzgerald. Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters are all you need here. We love a London dry gin for a straightforward, lemon-heavy drink, but you can use your favorite botanical gin instead, or swap for vodka if you can't stand the juniper spirit. The lemon juice should be fresh, since it's carrying the flavor of the drink, but bottled lemon juice will work in a pinch.

Angostura bitters work best here, but if you wanted to switch it up, orange or peach bitters would offer a similarly citrusy flavor. 

Combine the drink ingredients

Shaking drinks forces air into the liquid, creating a frothy, light mouthfeel that dilutes the spirit a bit. You'll see tequila-based margaritas and vodka-heavy martinis shaken for this reason. With gin, it's a little more controversial. Gin is a delicate flavor, and when shaken, the gin is considered bruised, and loses its unique flavor. So, in a drink with so little ingredients, should you risk harming the gin? It's up to you; whichever method is easier, or if you prefer to dilute the gin flavor, you should use. Either way, pour the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into the container, then either gently stir or vigorously shake in a shaker until chilled.

Strain into a cocktail glass

When using fresh lemon, it's wise to strain, or double strain, your drink into the glass. This helps remove the tiny pieces of pulp and any stray seeds, making for a smoother drink. Once you mix or shake the liquids together with ice, strain it into a chilled glass using a Hawthorne and mesh strainer. 

This drink can be served up, or on the rocks. If you prefer to serve it on the rocks, fill a glass with ice before straining it. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters to the drink. 

Garnish and serve

Keep the garnish simple here, and peel off the lemon rind before juicing the lemon. Slice it into shapes or simply express the oils over the drink, then drop the peel in for extra lemon flavor. You can also use a orange peel or a maraschino cherry for a dash of flavor, or drop in a raspberry for a subtle grown-up raspberry lemonade.

The Fitzgerald, being very similar to a sour, makes the cocktail a good aperitif for stimulating the appetite. Serve with warm, salty appetizers like spinach and artichoke dip, or have it alongside a dinner like roasted chicken.

Classic Fitzgerald Cocktail Recipe
4.9 from 18 ratings
You'll finally love the taste of gin with this easy, lemon-forward Fitzgerald cocktail recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cocktail on table with lemon
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 1 ½ ounces gin
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon peel, for garnish
  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice. Pour the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup over ice, then stir or shake gently to chill.
  2. Strain or fine strain over a glass. Add 2 dashes Angostura bitters, and a lemon peel to serve.
Calories per Serving 202
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 24.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.4 g
Total Sugars 22.0 g
Sodium 18.3 mg
Protein 0.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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