Improved Gin Cocktail Recipe

Genever and Cointreau: odd, but oh-so-compelling.

Jennifer Hess

The Improved Cocktail was originally more a template than a recipe. It was a way to take a basic cocktail and... well... improve it, by adding another ingredient.

The origins of the word "cocktail" are lost to history, but the first definition of it we find in print comes from an 1806 newspaper from upstate New York. A cocktail is called "a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters."

You made it by dissolving the sugar into the water, adding the spirit and bitters, and stirring. This eventually became the basic template for the Old Fashioned. While the modern Old Fashioned is normally a whiskey drink, the original cocktail could be made, as noted, from "spirits of any kind."

Bartenders then branched out, subtly, from there. If you took that original cocktail and rubbed a piece of lemon peel around the rim of the glass, that was a Fancy cocktail. If you took the original and added a hit of curaçao or maraschino liqueur to it, you had an Improved.

The Improved Gin Cocktail is a thing of beauty, but you need the right gin. Your preference should be for Hollands Gin, otherwise known today as genever. The spirit is rich and malty, and no matter which liqueur you use, you'll find that it enhances the malty taste. The Improved Gin Cocktail tastes like nothing other than an odd but delightful marriage of gin and malt whisky.

Unlike the Old Fashioned, the Improved is served up.

Note: To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe Details

Improved Gin Cocktail Recipe

Active 5 mins
Total 5 mins
Serves 1 serving

Genever and Cointreau: odd, but oh-so-compelling.


  • 2 ounces genever

  • 1/2 teaspoon simple syrup (see note)

  • 1 teaspoon Cointreau (or maraschino liqueur)

  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

  • Lemon peel, for garnish


  1. Combine genever, simple syrup, Cointreau (or maraschino), and bitters in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well to chill, about 15 seconds.

  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and rub around the rim of the glass.

Special equipment

Mixing glass, cocktail strainer

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
155 Calories
0g Fat
4g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 155
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 11mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)