Hollywood and The Bolero Cocktail

Jun 5, 2017

I’m beginning to think that Mr. Cotton was quite the film buff. I suppose it was the Golden Age of Hollywood after-all šŸ™‚

Our next Mr. Boston’s recipe appears to be inspired by another 1934 movie. This one starred Carole Lombard and George Raft.

Paramount Picture's Bolero 1934

Paramount Picture’s Bolero 1934

The films title, Bolero, is also a latin dance that originated in Cuba during the 18th century. It is the birthplace of the dance that tipped me off its relation to Mr. Boston’s 1935 Bolero Cocktail or more importantly, the Rum called for in the Bolero Cocktail.


In addition to one of Cuba’s most famous exports, the Bolero is a blend of Apple Jack and a couple dashes of Italian Vermouth. None of these tasty spirits is new to the book though I think this is the first time they have all been in the same drink.

I wasn’t able toĀ find the Bolero Cocktail recipe in any of the other old cocktail books I’ve been referencingĀ leading me to believe that like the Bachelor Bait and Big Bad Wolf Cocktails, the Bolero was intended to be publicity for the motion picture. All three movies were release just one year before the first copy of Mr. Boston’s was published.

Maybe this bartenders guide wasn’t designed to only promote Mr. Boston’s spirits after all? Maybe it was a cleaver way to get advertising dollars for the printing and distribution?

As with most of the recipes we have tried, the internet has changed the Bolero Cocktail time and time again. While most of the drinks going by the name have stayed true to the Rum, Brandy, Vermouth formula, some have gone have taken the drink in a tropical direction. This re-imagined Bolero soundsĀ delicious but doesn’t resembleĀ the vintage recipe at all. I may have to give it ago though now that Las Vegas is breaking the 100’s on a daily basis.

Ryan and I worked our butts off the last couple day’s getting a large order of Ginger Beer Kits ready for Uncommon Goods. After arrivingĀ home soreĀ and tired, the Bolero CocktailĀ sounded like it would beĀ just what the doctor ordered.

I mixed up 1 ounce of Bacardi Blanco Rum, 1/2 an ounce of Laird’s Apple Jack and 1/4 teaspoon of Antica Formula’s Sweet Vermouth and stirred the drink over ice. After straining my BoleroĀ into the 3 ounce cocktail glass as instructed I anticipatedawesomeness from my first sip. I was sorely disappointed šŸ™

I’m not sure why I expected the Bolero to be a sweet cocktail. The only sweet aspect of the drink recipe is the Italian Vermouth but this creation only calls for a tiny amount. Not to mention that AnticaĀ Formula hasĀ quite a biteĀ of Wormwood at the finish.

Laird’s Apple Jack isn’t sweet at all, rather more in line with a Cognac and while Bacardi’s Blanco is sweeter than the Gold version, the Vanilla only adds so much. To my dismay, the Bolero was for lack of a better word… boring!

Instead of shaking the drink over ice as Mr. Boston’s recommended, I opted to stir mine to avoid over diluting it. Still, the normally powerful flavors of the Apple Jack and Rum were watered down.

Ryan had the brilliant idea to add a 1/4 ounce of Siegburg Apfel to see if the normally syrupy sweet Apple liqueur could rescue my Bolero cocktail from Dullsville.


A German Schnapps, Siegburg is as I mentioned before usually too sweet for me. It tends to take over a drink much like Maraschino Liqueur does. But, for some reason, adding a bit to the Bolero was a major improvement. It gave the drink an identity. ItĀ helped bringĀ everything come together.

Sure the apple was the main focal point, but at least it had one. Before I wasn’t excited by a single ingredient. Not one. It was really strange since all three of the base spirits are delightful just not together.

All and all, the Bolero Cocktail may have made some money for the movie studio but as a cocktail, I give it a C-.