Cable Car Cocktail Recipe

If you're a fan of rum-based cocktails, chances are you regularly turn to popular tropical drinks that play to fruity flavors like the daiquiri, pina colada, and hurricane. But if you're looking for an option that focuses on the spice of a high-quality rum, it may be time to order a cable car. "The cable car is a super modern classic cocktail, much like the gold rush," explains recipe developer Michelle McGlinn. "If you like rum, you'll like this. It's straightforward and well-balanced with a heavy focus on the spiced rum. The cocktail plays to the strengths of spiced rum." 

If you don't love rum (but you're hosting those who do), you can still make the cocktail work for you. McGlinn herself admits that rum isn't her favorite liquor, but she enjoys the cable car more when she adds an extra ½ ounce of simple syrup to help cut the strong flavor of the rum. 

Gather the ingredients for the cable car cocktail

You don't need much to make this modern riff off of a classic sidecar cocktail. Before you get started, gather ground cinnamon and granulated sugar for the drink's spiced rim. A slice of fresh lemon or orange, your favorite spiced rum, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup. 

As far as spiced rum brands go, it's really up to you which one you use. "This drink was created with Captain Morgan ... most likely because it was the most popular brand at the time of creation, and frankly I'd say it still is!" says McGlinn. But she points out that she's had it with Sailor Jerry's and Kraken spiced rum, and aside from differences in alcohol content or color (respectively), the overall cocktail remains essentially the same.

Rim your glass with cinnamon sugar

You'll start by rimming your glass with cinnamon and sugar. Simply whisk the two ingredients together on a small plate. Use the fresh citrus slice to wet the rim of your glass by running it across the edge. Dip the glass' rim into the plate of cinnamon sugar to coat the edge. 

While you may think this isn't a critical step, McGlinn emphasizes that it's an important one. "The cinnamon sugar rim is standard for this cocktail and complements the rum really well. It's a very different drink without it." That said, if you're unsure if you want the added sweetness, McGlinn suggests rimming just half the glass so "the consumer can choose whether they want the added sweetness or not." 

And if you're having a hard time getting the spices to adhere to the edge of the glass with the citrus juice, McGlinn has a hack for that: "Honey works like glue!" she says. The trick, though, is to use just a tiny amount of honey to help prevent drips and mess. "If I'm using honey I'll keep [the glass] upside down after sugaring it until the honey sets," she says.

Add the ingredients to a shaker

With your glass rimmed and set aside, it's time to mix your cocktail. Simply fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the remaining ingredients — the rum, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Remember, if you want to cut the strong taste of the rum, just add a little extra simple syrup.

Shake the cocktail

Place the lid on your shaker and get to work — shake until the ingredients are cold, which should take about 15 seconds. It's important to take full advantage of the shake because as McGlinn points out, this drink is typically served straight up, without added ice. Of course, that's ultimately your call. "You can serve it over ice in a rocks glass, especially if you're not fond of rum, as it will dilute the flavors. Otherwise, serve in a stemmed glass!" McGlinn instructs. 

Strain the cable car cocktail and serve

Once your drink is nice and cold, there's only one thing left to do: strain it into your prepared glass, garnish it with an orange spiral, and serve. "This is citrusy and a little sweet. It goes well with spicier casual foods like barbacoa or California-style burritos, but [it] can be paired with any meats or heavy fish dishes. It would even go well with sushi!" says McGlinn. 

Cable Car Cocktail Recipe
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Try out this citrusy modern classic cocktail that highlights the flavor of spiced rum and adds sweetness with cinnamon sugar on the rim of your glass.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cable car cocktail served
Total time: 10 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon or orange slice
  • 1 ½ ounces spiced rum
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
Optional Ingredients
  • orange peel spiral, for garnish
  1. Whisk the cinnamon and sugar together on a small plate.
  2. Run the citrus slice across the rim of your serving glass, then firmly dip the rim into the cinnamon sugar to coat. Set aside.
  3. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour in the rum, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  4. Shake until chilled, about 15 seconds.
  5. Fine strain the cocktail into the prepared glass. Garnish with an orange spiral.
Calories per Serving 240
Total Fat 0.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 17.2 g
Sodium 9.5 mg
Protein 0.4 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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