Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Cognac & Other Brandy Cocktails


orange-hued Slivopolitan cocktail in a coupe glass, garnished with a fresh plum slice / Tim Nusog

Just as with a skilled cook, it’s often said that a great bartender can make anything taste good. However, in reality, there are several types of liquor that are very difficult to use in cocktails—even for pros like me. It takes some creativity to balance these stubborn spirits with other ingredients while not completely covering them up or having them dominate the drink.

One such spirit is the Eastern European plum brandy called slivovitz. Aged or un-aged, it does not matter. The thing that makes it so hard to use is that it usually overtakes anything else it’s mixed with. It is strong, it is pungent, and sometimes it is oaky. Slivovitz behaves like a bull in a china shop, and when you taste it, you will be carrying it with you for the rest of the day or night, just like when you eat fresh garlic. So, what should you do with it?

Europeans usually drink it neat. You can follow suit and not bother adding anything to the flavorful liquor. Just pour it into a glass and tip it back. But for years bartenders have tried combining it with orange curaçao, bitters, vermouth and egg whites without much success. In all my years behind the stick, I only could make slivovitz taste great in one thing: The Slivopolitan.

This cocktail merges slivovitz with Cointreau, plum puree and fresh lime juice, and it’s actually a pretty good drink. Shake your ingredients with ice, strain into a glass, and see how stubborn slivovitz lets its guard down and melds with the other components.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Stara Sokolova slivovitz

  • 1 ounce Cointreau

  • 3/4 ounce plum puree

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Garnish: plum slice


  1. Add the slivovitz, Cointreau, plum puree and lime juice into a shaker with large ice cubes and shake vigorously for 8 to 10 seconds.

  2. Double-strain into a coupe glass.

  3. Garnish with a slice of fresh plum.