The Army and Navy cocktail is a classic sipper that’s simultaneously sweet, sour and herbaceous. It’s also easy to craft with just four ingredients plus ice.
We have a thing for cocktails with fun names like the Woo Woo and French Connection. The Army and Navy cocktail is not one of those cocktails. In fact, its name is so stodgy that we were hesitant to give the classic drink a try.
Luckily we did. As it turns out, the classic cocktail hits our cocktail sweet spot. And, despite our initial hesitation, it currently ranks as one of our favorite cocktails.
What Is the Army and Navy Cocktail?
Technically, the Army and Navy cocktail is a classic sour cocktail that’s crafted with gin, lemon juice, bitters and orgeat. However, this slightly herbaceous cocktail is as sweet as it is sour.
Originally crafted with a 2:1:1 ratio of gin, orgeat and lemon juice, the sour cocktail evolved over time to add bitters to the mix. Some modern recipes, including ours, modify the 2:1:1 ratio.
History of the Army and Navy Cocktail
Despite its military-inspired name, cocktail historians can’t successfully use military precision to pinpoint the inventor of the Army and Navy cocktail. While they trace the cocktail to David A. Embury’s 1948 The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, its exact origin is unknown.
One origin story links the cocktail to the annual Army-Navy football game that pairs West Point’s Black Knights against the Naval Academy’s Midshipmen. While this is a viable option, it seems a bit suspect to us since beer is the most typical football game libation. That being said, maybe the cocktail is heavily imbibed by the big brass who sit in luxury boxes.
There’s also speculation that the cocktail was created at The Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC. This explanation has merit since the club’s Daiquiri Lounge introduced Cuba’s Daiquiri cocktail to American drinkers.
Crafting the Army and Navy cocktail recipe doesn’t require a lot of rations, i.e. ingredients. Instead, you just need the following items:
You may already have these ingredients on hand. If not, they should all be easy to find and buy.
While you’re the head coach when you craft an Army-Navy cocktail at home, dry gin plays the quarterback position. Accordingly, we recommend using your favorite gin brand.
We typically use France’s Citadelle dry gin to craft this and other gin cocktails. Produced in Cognac, the premium gin features 19 botanicals and has an ABV of 44%.
Discover more of our favorite gin cocktails.
Also produced in France, Monin Orgeat is a premium sirop infused with almonds and sugar. The sweet, nutty flavor of the opaque white syrup provides a pleasing counterbalance to this cocktail’s tart lemon juice.
Although orgeat is a key ingredient in cocktails like the Mai Tai, the almond-flavored syrop is alcohol-free.
The lemon is a clutch player in the Army and Navy cocktail since it fills two positions – fresh lemon juice and the lemon twist garnish.
Peel the lemon twist before you squeeze the lemon juice.
Aromatic bitters provide an herbaceous finish to the Army and Navy cocktail. Produced by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago with a secret recipe and sporting a 44.7% ABV, Angostura bitters is ideal choice for this recipe.
How to Craft an Army and Navy Cocktail
As is the case with most classic cocktails, crafting an Army and Navy cocktail is easy once you gather the ingredients, a coupe glass and a few basic bar tools.
The first step is to measure the gin, orgeat and lemon juice. We use a Japanese jigger to measure the liquors and a miniature angled measuring cup to measure the lemon juice.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Immediately pour each liquid into a shaker. We use a Boston shaker in this and other cocktail recipes to avoid spillage and ensure accurate measurements.
Add a dash of aromatic bitters directly into the shaker.
Add ice and vigorously shake the four liquid ingredients for 20 seconds or until they’re thoroughly mixed and chilled.
Strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.
We suspect that you won’t want to vary this recipe once you craft and sip your first Army and Navy cocktail at home – it’s that good. However, in case we’re wrong, here are a few options you can try:
Frequently Asked Questions
The Army and Navy cocktail is a classic gin cocktail that’s simultaneously sweet, sour and herbaceous.
The Army and Navy cocktail was invented in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.
Dry Gin, Orgeat, Aromatic Bitters, Lemon Juice, Ice (for shaking) and a Lemon Twist (garnish)
The Army and Navy cocktail is shaken, not stirred.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
Army and Navy Cocktail Recipe
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 3/4 ounce orgeat almond syrup
- 1 dash aromatic bitters
- 1 lemon twist (garnish)
- ice cubes (for shaking)
- Combine gin, lemon juice, orgeat and bitters in a shaker.
- Add several ice cubes and shake until the liquids are mixed and chilled – approximately 20 seconds.
- Strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with a lemon twist.
- You can use another glass instead of a coupe glass.
- You can garnish with a grapefruit twist instead of a lemon twist.
Thirsty For More Gin Cocktails?
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: February 10, 2024