The Stinger Cocktail Drink Recipe Cary Grant Would Approve Of

This retro stinger cocktail drink recipe is so easy and has a unique flavor that's due for a comeback.

“Stingers… and keep them coming!” This was one of many demands for a cocktail made by Cary Grant’s fighter pilot character in the 1957 comedy Kiss Them for Me. The stinger was popular in the ’50s and ’60s, and also appeared in the Frank Sinatra/Grace Kelly film High Society, Ian Fleming’s James Bond spy novels and an episode of the midcentury-inspired TV show Mad Men. It’s portrayed as a swanky drink enjoyed by cool people. (By the way, this is how James Bond should be ordering his martinis.)

Bottle of Creme de Menthe liqueurNancy Mock for Taste of Home

But, What Is a Stinger?

The classic stinger cocktail drink recipe is made with only two ingredients: cognac (or brandy) and creme de menthe. It was created in the late 19th century and became the drink of the wealthy society. Its popularity grew over the next several decades lasting through Prohibition into the 1960s. The stinger was originally enjoyed only as a digestif, or after-dinner drink, but it gradually became acceptable to enjoy this cocktail anytime. The drink declined in popularity through the latter half of the 20th century and has not enjoyed the same resurgence as other vintage drinks like the Moscow mule, gimlet and these other classic cocktails that are currently having a moment. We think it’s high time the stinger came back into vogue!

Stinger cocktail two ways - in a cocktail glass and on the rocks, with cognac and creme de menthe in background.Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

How to Make a Stinger Cocktail

You have to try this easy and delicious drink. I’m hooked—and once you are, introduce your friends to the stinger. It’s definitely a vintage cocktail that deserves a comeback.

Makes 2 drinks

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces cognac (brandy can also be used)
  • 1 ounce white creme de menthe liqueur
  • Ice

Editor’s Tip: Be sure to use white creme de menthe which is a clear liqueur, and not the green version. Though the flavors are the same, using green creme de menthe will create a murky, unappealing color when mixed with the amber cognac.

Instructions

Step 1: Mix the drinks

Add the cognac, creme de menthe and ice to a cocktail shaker like this one ($12). Shake until the ingredients are well-blended and chilled. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, use another lidded container, like a Mason jar.

Step 2: Serve with flair

Strain the drink into two cocktail glasses, and serve immediately. Cheers!

Editor’s Note: The stinger can also be served on the rocks. Place a few ice cubes in a rocks glass or other short tumbler. Stir the cognac and creme de menthe together, then pour the mixture over ice.

Why It Works

Let’s look at what goes into this drink. Cognac is a type of brandy that’s dry with flavors of vanilla and fresh or dried fruit. Creme de menthe, on the other hand, is a peppermint liqueur, sweet and refreshing with a soft, smooth feel as you sip it.

Fun fact: Creme de menthe isn’t a cream-based liqueur, but actually the “creme” in the name refers to the liqueur being sweetened with sugar.

While it may seem strange to combine these two spirits to make a cocktail, it’s actually delicious. Blended together, the creme de menthe smooths out the dry edge of the cognac and a whole new flavor is created. The vanilla and fruit of the cognac are still there but with velvety sweetness and a clean finish from the creme de menthe. The stinger is a strong enough drink that I can’t really see having rounds upon rounds of them as Cary Grant’s character liked to do. However, it is a wonderful drink for slow sipping and savoring, whether before or after dinner. Put your bartender skills to the test with more surprisingly good mixed drinks that will impress your friends.

Stinger cocktail in hand of man in jacket and tieNancy Mock for Taste of Home

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Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.