Drink Like Billie Holiday And Try Her Favorite Cocktail, The Stinger

Most people can't sing the blues like legend Billie Holiday, but you can take comfort in knowing that you can enjoy the same spirit-heavy drink she did. The five-time Grammy winner was a fan of a classic cocktail called The Stinger. This boozy beverage is made with Cognac, or "eau de vie" as the French call it, along with white crème de menthe

The ingredients are shaken together and strained over crushed ice. It's served in a glamorous coupe glass, giving its drinker all kinds of "Great Gatsby" vibes. However, because it tends to be on the sweet side thanks to the crème de menthe, many people prefer to drink this cocktail as an after-dinner aperitif or nightcap. 

The Stinger was definitely a popular drink thanks to the likes of Holiday and Hollywood, where this cocktail made an appearance in the movie "High Society" starring Grace Kelly and in "The Philadelphia Story," which starred Katherine Hepburn. But how did the iconic drink come into existence? Its origin story began in New York in 1890. Back then, it was known as the Bartholdi cocktail, dubbed so for the hotel where it was first created. 

The Stinger has been updated in recent years

The Stinger underwent a few name changes as it traveled from the Holland House Hotel to the Waldorf-Astoria to the home of Reginald Vanderbilt. However, naming rights for Billie Holiday's favorite cocktail go to John C. O'Connor's bar in San Francisco. Sorry, New York! As it gained traction, The Stinger became a drink that belonged to a life of opulence, until around 1970, when its popularity decreased. 

Today, the classic cocktail is experiencing a renaissance in the restaurants and bars of its birthplace, but with a bit of an update. The Stinger Cocktail Bar & Kitchen has created its own version of The Stinger using Grey Goose Le Citron vodka and Yellow Chartreuse Herbal Liqueur along with some lemon juice. It gives you some of the same minty notes but is much more subtle without the overwhelming sweetness. And, per Imbibe Magazine, Salvador Lazaro, a bartender at Brandy Library in NYC, crafts his Stinger using Jamaican rum and fresh mint leaves. 

That said, if you like the flavor profile of Holiday's traditional Stinger, it is not the only cocktail that will allow your mouth to enjoy the minty, sweet taste that is synonymous with it. Try mixing crème de menthe with crème de cacao and heavy cream to create a retro Grasshopper, or add the sweet liqueur to your next San Moritz Martini.