Cocktail Recipe: Foghorn’s Fog Cutter

I have a soft spot in my heart for tiki cocktails. Sure I might look like the kind of guy who complains if his old fashioned has one too many cubes of sugar in it (and I do), but there’s something irresistible about the sweet and boozy ridiculousness that a good tiki cocktail brings to the table. When everyone else is sipping from a classy rocks glass, sometimes having a giant wedge of pineapple and a tiny umbrella is the best choice. And of the various tiki cocktails, the fog cutter is one of my favorites.


I say it’s one of my favorites, but I make a couple changes to the way I prepare mine.

The original fog cutter cocktail was unveiled at Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron’s famous and eponymous Oakland, California bar in the 1940’s. Describing the cocktail in his 1947 edition of the Bartender’s Guide, he says of this drink “Fog Cutter, hell. After two of these you won’t even see the stuff.” With no less than four different kinds of alcohol mixed into this showstopper of a cocktail, even Trader Vic’s had to impose a strict limit of two glasses per patron per night for those who chose this item off the menu — lest things get out of hand.

Back in those days, the recipe called for a light rum as the base which usually means a white rum of some sort. These spirits tend to have a fruity and light flavor profile — elements that come from the fermentation and distillation of the spirit rather than the oaky flavors that come from maturation in wood casks. This is where I start to deviate a bit from the recipe, because I usually grab a bottle of Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum for my choice, which not only has the fruity components but also a delightful “hogo funk” that adds something unique to the flavor profile (read our full review for the details). Another good choice would be Plantation Three Star White Rum, which has some of the same characteristics without the maturation.

Spirit number two is a dry gin. Specifically, the recipe calls for a London dry gin which is particularly juniper forward. (In other words, it smells like you just shoved a whole Christmas tree up your nose.) This is supposed to add some aromatics to the cocktail — and while I’m here for it, I also think there might be a bit too much going on with the juniper. In my versions of this cocktail, I typically prefer an American Gin, and Aviation American Gin is a solid choice here. (For those in Austin, local Still Austin Gin is my go-to.)

Next on the list is a cognac, which is a specific variety of French fruit brandy that is made from wine and aged in large oak barrels. A good cognac will have a flavor profile described best as a “fruitcake” with nutty, sugary sweet, and fruity notes to it. Then again, all those notes are details that probably will get lost in the mix with this cocktail and grabbing a high value bottle will just increase the cost without increasing the value. You can check out our cognac reviews here, but for the money a bottle of Courvoisier VS is perfectly fine.

That brings us to the fruit juices, and the biggest change I make to this cocktail. The standard recipe calls for two full ounces of lemon juice, which is pretty much just an entire lemon squeezed into the shaker. The point of this component is to add some acidity and citrus to an otherwise cloyingly sweet drink, but in my opinion that lemon is just too much and unbalances the drink almost into sour cocktail territory.

It’s also a mixology faux pas to use lemon juice with aged spirits – lemons go with unaged spirits like gin, while lime juice is best for whiskey and aged rum. And since I swapped in an aged rum, it only makes sense that I need to shift things around with the juices as well.

For my version, I swap the 2 oz lemon juice with 1 oz pineapple juice. In my opinion, the tang from the pineapple juice is still enough to provide that citrus acidity without going overboard, and makes for a more enjoyable cocktail.

And just to be contrary, one last alteration: the sherry. This is a richly fruity dessert wine that brings a lot of those dark fruit flavors (cherries, plums, raisins, that kind of thing). It adds depth and richness to the cocktail, imparting complexity and sweetness along the way. The original recipe calls for this to be floated on top of the cocktail and allow it to sink into the mix, but my floats always seem to sink immediately and never really mix. As a result, I just throw a 1/2 ounce of the stuff into the shaker and mix it all up. The mixing process aerates the sherry and enhances those flavors, making for a more consistent cocktail.

Plus, let’s be real — you won’t be paying attention to the fact that it wasn’t perfectly floated over a barspoon by the time you get even 1/3 of a way through this thing.

From there, I take the rest as written — orgeat, orange juice, add it to a shaker and mix the whole concoction together.


Ingredients (for my version)

Add everything to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Pour into a tall glass, garnish with a wedge of pineapple and a tiny umbrella, and serve.

Is the tiki vibe too tacky for you? Does it sound like you might not be able to walk after a glass of this stuff? Give it a shot yourself, and let us know in the comments if you find a way to make it even better!


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