The Godfather cocktail and its siblings

Words by Simon Difford

Photography by Dan Malpass

The Godfather cocktail and its siblings image 1

Traditionally equal parts Scotch blended whisky and amaretto, the Godfather is one of the enduring classics to emerge from the 1970s. It's basically an Old-Fashioned with attitude – the attitude being: why sweeten with mere sugar when you could use a flavoursome liqueur.

Like all great cocktails, the Godfather is a member of a family of similar cocktails:
Godfather: Scotch whisky and amaretto
Godmother: vodka and amaretto
Godchild: brandy and amaretto

Amaretto tends to combine more harmoniously with dark spirits than vodka or gin, and there's something about whisky, particularly the smoky note in Scotch whisky, that sits brilliantly alongside amaretto. Hence, the Godfather has proved the most enduring of the 'God' cocktail family.

What's a Godfather called when made with Bourbon rather than Scotch? Well, according to Stanley M. Jones' 1977 Jones' Complete Barguide (page 233), it's simply The Boss:

ency 85 image

The appearance of the whole 'God damn' cocktail family in Jones', published in 1977, and numerous cocktail books from the 1980s, is testament to the Godfather being a 1970s cocktail. Indeed, this cocktail is eponymously named after the Italian-American Mafia book and film trilogy, The Godfather. Mario Puzo's novel was published in 1969 and Francis Ford Coppola's first film followed in March 1972, the highest-grossing film of the year, and for some years after.

Jones' and most other cocktail books of the period stipulate an equal parts (1oz Scotch to 1oz amaretto) recipe, which produces a very tasty but slightly sweet dessert-style cocktail. Easing back the liqueur and upping the proportion of whisky dries the cocktail, adding spirituous spice and moving from the dessert course to more nightcap Old Fashioned territory. Such a move also screams for dashes of bitters. Suddenly, this 1970s cocktail gets serious, seriously good and worthy of riffs:

ency 68 image
Classic Godfather cocktail
With: Scotch whisky and amaretto.
We say: Ratios for this range from equal parts to 8:1 but we like ours 3:1.

ency 100 image
Almond Old Fashioned (bourbon-based)
With: Bourbon, amaretto, dark sugar syrup, aromatic bitters.
We say: Bourbon's sweet notes are lifted by amaretto's almond richness.

ency 45 image
Almond Old Fashioned (tequila-based)
With: Reposado tequila, amaretto liqueur, agave syrup and orange bitters.
We say: Just as it says on the tin. Yumm.

ency 12 image
Brooklyn Godfather
With: Bourbon, amaretto liqueur, dry vermouth, and rosso vermouth.
We say: An amaretto Brooklyn or a bourbon-based Godfather with vermouth.

ency 84 image
Big Boss
With: Bottled-in-Bond rye whiskey, amaretto and bitters.
We say: A Godfather made with bourbon is "The Boss" so it stands to reason that with bottled-in-bond rye it is the Big Boss.

ency 34 image
With: Bourbon, amaretto liqueur, cream and sugar syrup.
We say: A creamy Godfather.

ency 21 image
Explorer 'Martini'
With: Scotch whisky, amaretto liqueur, and amontillado sherry.
We say: Add a splash of sherry to a Godfather and you've an explorer.

ency 23 image
Fat Godfather
With: Fat-washed Scotch whisky, amaretto liqueur and whiskey barrel bitters.
We say: This Godfather has been on the bacon.

ency 76 image
French Conection
With: Cognac and amaretto liqueur.
We say: A Godchild but traditionally specifically made with cognac rather than brandy and served in a snifter glass without ice.

ency 66 image
Fruity Godchild
With: Bourbon, rye whiskey, amaretto liqueur, crème de noyau, maraschino liqueur and aromatic bitters.
We say: A rich fruity riff on a Godfather with a surprisingly dry finish.

ency 37 image
Godfather Sour
With: Scotch whisky. Amaretto liqueur, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.
We say: A rich almondy whisky sour.

ency 39 image
Jack's Godfather Highball
With: Tennessee whiskey, amaretto liqueur and cola.
We say: The ultimate Italian American highball.

ency 79 image
Loch Almond Highball
With: Scotch whisky, amaretto, liqueur and ginger ale.
We say: Add ginger ale to lengthen a Godfather and we've a Loch Almond Highball.

ency 19 image
Madurised Old Fashioned Godfather
With: Bourbon, rye whiskey, Scotch whisky, amaretto liqueur, and Verdelho madeira.
We say: A trio of whiskies with rich vinious nutty complexity.

ency 25 image
Smoked Old Fashioned Godfather
With: Bourbon, rye whiskey, Scotch whisky, amaretto liqueur and Islay peated single malt.
We say: A quartet of whiskies with rich almond notes.

ency 75 image
Stiletto Manhattan
With: Tennessee whiskey, amaretto, dry vermouth, orange bitters.
We say: Add a splash of vermouth to a Godfather and you've a Manhattan.

ency 36 image
Toasted Old Fashioned Godfather
With: Rye whiskey, bourbon whiskey, amaretto liqueur and aromatic bitters.
We say: A complex, dry and boozy late-night sipper.

Join the Discussion

... comment(s) for The Godfather cocktail and its siblings

You must log in to your account to make a comment.

Report comment

You must be logged in to upvote or downvote a comment

Click here to login
Welcome to Difford's Guide

All editorial and photography on this website is copyright protected

© Odd Firm of Sin 2024