Barbary Coast

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Cocktail History

The Barbary Coast is a gin and Scotch-based dessert drink that was originally created by the legendary bartender Harry Craddock and included in his 1930 recipe book, The Savoy Cocktail Book. Why Craddock named the drink as such is a mystery, with the possibilities being that the name is a nod to either the coast in Northern Africa or the sultry red light district that existed in San Francisco during the 19th and 20th centuries.

This variation, which tweaks the ingredients to modernize the recipe, is credited to William Elliot of Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York and was included in Winter Drinks: 70 Essential Cold-Weather Cocktails by the editors of PUNCH.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Gin: This is one of the base spirits. We chose West Cork Distillers Garnish Island Gin for its floral and herb botanicals and chocolate notes that we knew would pair well with the other cocoa flavors.

Peated Islay Scotch: This is the other base spirit that adds smoky aroma and flavor. We chose Laphroaig because it’s a great, peaty Islay Scotch with bold flavors.

White Crème De Cacao: This is a chocolate liqueur that adds light cocoa notes. We used one of these made by DeKuyper.

Heavy Cream: This gives the drink its creamy texture. We typically use half & half instead of heavy cream because it’s flavorful while still being lighter on the calories, but you can also use heavy cream or milk.

Rose Water: This is a flavored water made by steeping rose petals in water. We used Cortas Rose Flower Water because it’s high quality yet still affordable.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals. They add more spice and complexity to the drink and tie the other flavors together.

Orange Twist: This is one of the garnishes. It adds fresh citrus aroma.

Grated Nutmeg: This is the other garnish. It’s sprinkled on top to add a hint of flavor and spiced aroma.

Tasting Notes

The Barbary Coast begins with aromas of sweet nutmeg, has a creamy texture that features the deep earthiness of peated Scotch complemented with a bit of chocolate and hints of herbs, citrus, and spices, and ends with a mostly dry aftertaste that leaves a slight spiciness and herbal note in the back of the throat.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: If you want to partake in a dessert drink but don’t have much of a sweet tooth, this recipe may fit the bill. Kendall unfortunately wasn’t a fan of the Scotch being front and center, and Alex would’ve liked a touch more chocolate flavor to complement the Scotch. Those points aside though, we still found this drink to offer an amazing amount of complexity with its eclectic list of ingredients.

Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐
“This drink was really interesting, but I unfortunately enjoyed it a bit less than I expected to after seeing the list of ingredients. It ends up being very dry, which is not a bad thing, but for a cream-based drink that includes chocolate, you expect a level of sweetness that wasn’t there in this case. It’s a good “serious” drink where the spirits are identifiable and can be tasted, and the Scotch lends a really good earthiness and smokiness that benefits the drink’s character. The chocolate from the crème de cacao is also there but not very upfront, and it lends a good supporting role to the other ingredients, making this a good dessert-style but not actually very desserty drink.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐
“This was a very interesting dessert cocktail. I’ve met very few of them that I didn’t like, but I do have to admit that this one wasn’t my favorite, mostly because the Islay Scotch’s flavors are quite prominent. That whisky isn’t my go-to because I find it to be too smoky and overpowering in most recipes, and that was how I felt about it in this drink. If you’re already a fan of Islay Scotch, I do think you might enjoy the Barbary Coast! It’s not really all the sweet and is very complex.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Winter Drinks: 70 Essential Cold-Weather Cocktails by the editors of PUNCH.

AuthorWinter DrinksPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 1 oz Gin
 1 oz Peated Islay Scotch
 1 oz White Crème De Cacao
 1 oz Heavy Cream
 6 drops Rose Water
 3 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 Orange Twist
 Grated Nutmeg

Method
1

Add gin, Scotch, crème de cacao, heavy cream, rose water, bitters, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a Nick & Nora glass.

4

Express orange twist over top of drink.

5

Garnish with orange twist and grated nutmeg.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 oz Gin
 1 oz Peated Islay Scotch
 1 oz White Crème De Cacao
 1 oz Heavy Cream
 6 drops Rose Water
 3 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 Orange Twist
 Grated Nutmeg

Directions

Method
1

Add gin, Scotch, crème de cacao, heavy cream, rose water, bitters, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a Nick & Nora glass.

4

Express orange twist over top of drink.

5

Garnish with orange twist and grated nutmeg.

Barbary Coast

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Dessert Cocktails

If you like this dessert cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

The Marriage of Maguey: A mezcal and tequila cocktail made with coffee chocolate liqueur, orange curaçao, and agave syrup

Chocolate-Covered Cherry: A brandy cocktail made with dark crème de cacao, cherry liqueur, and a cherry

Grand Galliano: A low-proof cocktail made with Liquore Galliano L’Autentico, Grand Marnier, heavy cream, an orange twist, and grated nutmeg

Falling Leaves: A rye cocktail made with Amaro Montenegro, toasted fig syrup, chocolate bitters, and an orange slice

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