Alfonso Special

Alfonso Special

The ALFONSO SPECIAL has some good things going for it in the naming department. Brian may disagree—he has written about cocktail naming before—but I think it the Alfonso Special gets points for having an interesting person or place featured in the name and I like the traditional nature of the “special”, which of course makes one wonder if there is an Alfonso or an Alfonso Normal (there is, but it’s made with Dubonnet and Champagne!). Now the real person/place thing can also work against a cocktail, as you will see with the dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers Allen cocktail coming up in a couple weeks. The Allen grates. But the Alfonso Special, that, well, that could be something!

Eric: Who is Alfonso? And what’s so special about him?
Brian: I think this had to do with some kind of royalty. Alfonso the 2nd or 8th or some dude who liked Grand Marnier a lot. But their telling of the history was a little weird to me.
Eric: Who’s telling? Wait, was this from the Grand Marnier website?
Brian: Yes.
Eric: (hangs head) No wonder it was a royal account. We should do a search for the REAL Alfonso. That could be some Pulitzer-winning cocktail journalism.
Brian: …

.75 oz. dry gin (Blackwoods)
1.5 oz. Grand Marnier
A few drops sweet vermouth and dry vermouth (Carpano Antica, Dolin)
A few dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine with ice; shake. Strain and add ice.

Brian: That’s a LOT of Grand Marnier. I do pick up the gin; I don’t know the reason for the vermouth. I don’t find it bad though, for some reason. But when I taste it, my brain says, “You shouldn’t like this.”
Eric: It tastes like a soup of booze. A booze soup.
Brian: Why am I adding ice to a coupe glass?
Eric I’m giving it a 4. This is a murky swamp of booze. To me it tastes like Grand Marnier with some stuff. But, as always, if I were presented this at a bar and told, “This is our market cocktail”—
Brian: I’m telling you, this with a big ice cube. You could totally sell that. Put a little twist of orange in there or something. Just to jazz it up a little.
Eric: I like the big ice cube in a coupe glass. Actually, I’m both attracted to and repelled by it. I like the idea of the ice cube but it actually makes the drink worse. I don’t think you need the ice cube, but I appreciate its iconoclastic nature—it’s really breaking the rules. I’m going to give it a 5 because of the adventurous nature of the ice cube.
Brian: I’m giving it a 6.
Eric: Wow, that’s bold.
Brian: It is bold. It is a bold move on my part.
Eric: But these are bold times. You know, if we ever hope to get through this book we should be doing 5 or 6 cocktails per session.
Brian: Oh, God.

SCORES: Brian 6, Eric 5.

Eric D. Anderson


Eric D. Anderson came to appreciate cocktails late in life and is trying to make up for lost time. He finds that crafting drinks involves the same precision, creativity, sociability, and ritual as baking—another passion—and believes that it brings people together in the same way. Eric is the director of Way of the Puck, a feature-length documentary about professional air hockey, and the editor of Stories of Quitting (, an online collection of true stories that celebrate giving up. His writing has appeared in AGNI, Painted Bride Quarterly, Perigee, Giant Robot, and Wild Quarterly, among other publications. In his free time he works as a camera operator on commercials and motion pictures.

Always drink responsibly!