Cossack – Recipe from David Embury’s ‘The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’

1 part Sugar Syrup 

2 parts Lime Juice 

4 parts Vodka 

4 parts Cognac 

Shake with crushed ice.


My wife is part Cossack. My understanding of, and this is probably a modern colloquial version of history, is that in old times in Russia most of the country worked in a feudal system for the Tsar / King. One group of people that fell outside of this structure were the Cossacks from present day Ukraine, who were used by the ruler as mercenaries as they had a fierce reputation when It came to battle.

At the outbreak of the first world war there were lots of Cossacks fighting in the Russian army, when the rise of communism happened most Cossacks sided with the white army and formed its core, after the Bolsheviks came to power they rounded them up and executed around 20% of all Cossacks, then starved, imprisoned or deported the remainder.

This was a drink I planned on trying in Moscow at the beginning of the year, but just never got around to it. When starting in bars, and for a very long time this kind of recipe always bucked the trend to my learning. I was taught that a cocktail should have one type of spirit in, a large measure and that should be it. I almost never saw drinks with two or more different types of spirits, unless it was a wonderful giant Tiki monstrosity. Its been this year when trying lots of different recipes that I’ve begin to appreciate more of a blend between spirits and what they can achieve.

This does exactly what you’d imagine, it tones down the dried fruitiness from the cognac, so it doesn’t fight against the lime quite so much, it’s a simple recipe which works well, there’s nothing particularly special about the drink, it is pleasant and easy to drink.