If you're into thinkin' and drinkin'

Episode 39: Floats Like a Butterfly – Stinger

You know that age when you’re old enough to drink but haven’t quite conditioned yourself to the taste of alcohol.  That’s how the Stinger happened.

The origins of the Stinger are unclear but the first written reference to the cocktail is in 1917.  Whatever its origins, the Stinger became a kind of upper crust cocktail ordered in wealthy gentlemens’ clubs.  While rising in popularity during Prohibition because the mint hid the smell of alcohol on one’s breath, this cocktail became a preferred beverage during World War II with the fighter pilots.  This came about possibly for two reasons: pilots were young and so the mint disguised the harder alcohol flavor of the bourbon or cognac and the flyboys were considered the aristocrats of the armed forces and so the Stinger carried with it its original class prestige.

The Stinger itself is any primary spirit mixed with crème de menthe.  Most commonly it is mixed with cognac.

Bobby let me sample two versions of this drink.  He made the original with green crème de menthe (named a “Green Hornet”) and he made a more subtle version.  His version included:

  • Brandy
  • A little Triple Sec
  • Real muddled mint
  • Peychaud Bitters

His version was much lighter and more subtle, not a heavy, sticky sweet concoction and was doing a lot more than just being minty.

I think it is interesting to note that the Stinger appears to be a get-intoxicated-fast kind of drink especially if you don’t care for the flavor of alcohol.  In a way, it is the 1930s-1940s version of the Long Island Iced Tea. There is no class and no style with this beverage; it’s fruit punch and everclear.  Even though it was considered fancy closer to its origins, that seems to have diminished over time whereupon it was relegated to youth in the 40s and finally as a womens’ cocktail in the 50s…not for serious or discriminating drinkers.  The interesting thing is despite the nightmare this cocktail may or may not be in its original form it doesn’t lose its classic identity.  This cocktail was significant historically; it made an impact.  And that’s cool.

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