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Monkey Gland Recipe


Monkey Gland Cocktail

Monkey Gland

Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

Of all the drinks in the world, the Monkey Gland is one of my absolute favorites, if you get it just right that is. Most recipes tend to suggest a splash of absinthe or one of its many substitutes, but I prefer the subtlety of rinsing the glass with absinthe. This creates a nice, fruity cocktail with the slightest taste of anise and the aroma itself is intoxicating and delightful.

During the time that absinthe was illegal in the U.S. many bartenders learned to make this drink with Benedictine, also a worthy libation though with an entirely different profile. This drink has a sordid history that explains its unusual name (the story is below the recipe).

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Yield: 1 Cocktail



  1. Swirl a dash of absinthe in a chilled cocktail glass to coat it, then dump any excess liqueur.
  2. Pour the other ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Strain into the cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with the orange slice or a burnt orange peel.

The Story of the Monkey Gland:
(originally published March 30, 2008)

The Monkey Gland is not the typical drink name and it's origin is, well, interesting. In his 1922 Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails book, Harry McElhone (owner of Harry's New York Bar in Paris) took credit for the invention of this drink. He also claims that the name Monkey Gland was inspired by the 1920's experiments of one Serge Voronoff. It was well before the time of Viagra and it's many male enhancement counterparts and Voronoff was experimenting with various implants. The most famous of these was the grafting of monkey testicle tissue, or monkey glands, to human testicles. Voronoff was well-known for this rather shocking technique and over time he received a considerable amount of ridicule for it and died in near obscurity in the 1950's. This Wikipedia article had more on the doctor's life.

So, there's the story behind the drink. If nothing else it's great trivia while you're sharing a round of Monkey Glands with friends.

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