Morning Glory Cocktail & Combier

It’s funny how the memory works (or in my case, doesn’t).

I’ve been making the Morning Glory for at least five years now, and it wasn’t until quite recently that I discovered that I’d been making it incorrectly this entire time. I’ve been telling every patron who would listen that this fantastic drink had a history dating all the way back to 1862 (when further examination occurred, I discovered it was actually 1887) and constructing it with Champagne instead of seltzer. And I call myself a professional (even if some of you don’t)!  So, as I actually use my own site as a reference from time to time, I’d thought that I’d write a post about this lovely libation, in hopes that I’ll stop doling out incorrect information and cocktails (although I have a feeling that it’ll take a lot more than one post to correct my failing memory).

The obvious way to get on with this, would be to cover the Morning Glory as first laid out by Jerry Thomas in 1887 and as copied from my Bon Vivant’s Companion, 1928 First Edition, #22 of 160.


Use medium bar glass

Three dashes of gomme syrup
Two dashes curaçao
One dash of absinthe
One pony of brandy
One pony of whiskey

One piece of lemon peel, twisted to express the lemon oil
Two small pieces of ice

Stir thoroughly and remove the ice. Fill the glass with
Seltzer water or plain soda, and stir with a teaspoon having
a little sugar on it.

Somehow, years ago, from this recipe I retained the following, which I have now renamed the:


1 oz cognac
1 oz rye
¼ oz Combier Liqueur D’Orange
dash simple syrup (for texture)
dash Boker’s bitters (use Angostura if necessary)
absinthe rinse
stir and strain into rinsed cocktail glass
top with splash of Champagne
lemon twist or cherry garnish

As you can see, I’ve twisted the recipe around a bit, most notably upping the orange liqueur, reducing the syrup, adding bitters (they truly do make everything better) and, of course subbing the bubbly for the soda water. This is a really complex drink with a lot of brown spirit that still manages to pass trippingly over the tongue. While it is the perfect cocktail for this time of year, I don’t find it unimaginable to be quaffing this libation in the hotter months as well.

With further modification (however slight) we come to a new cocktail, substantially different enough from our good friend Jerry’s original creation to be honored with a new moniker. I give you the:


1 oz cognac
1 oz rye
¼ oz St. Germain liqueur
dash simple syrup (for texture)
dash Boker’s bitters (use Angostura if necessary)
absinthe rinse
stir and strain into rinsed cocktail glass
top with splash of Champagne
lemon twist or cherry garnish

The perceptive ones out there will quickly realize that the only difference between the Royale and the Aurora is the swap of St. Germain for the orange liqueur.  While perhaps a subtle change, this little substitution makes a big difference in the cocktail and is a perfect example of how versatile St. Germain really is: I’ve yet to find a cocktail where the sub of St. Germain for orange liqueur or maraschino hasn’t worked. (Full disclosure: I am now Seattle’s St. Germain Ambassador, but if you look at the dates of earlier posts, you can see that I’ve been a big fan of this spirit since its initial release). That said, I find this variation to be my favorite of the three (and not just because it’s my creation).

You may have noticed that I specified a specific orange liqueur with the Morning Glory Royale. Long time readers of this blog will realize that I always use Cointreau as my orange liqueur in my cocktails, but today I’ve changed it up with Combier. Why the shift? Well, quite frankly, they sent me a sample and I found it enjoyable enough to mention. Here is some info from their website:

Combier Liqueur d’Orange is prepared in the distillery’s inner room surrounded by the age and warmth of century old copper stills and the intoxicating scent of fruits and berries from the surrounding Loire Valley. It is here where the magic begins.
In line with Combier family tradition, the Master Distiller carefully marries the fragrant orange peels with sugar beets delivered straight from the fields of Normandy along with pure alcohol from outside of Paris.
From there the Master Distiller uses a triple-distillation process- hence the term ‘triple-sec’- whereby the ingredients are three times distilled in the very same century-old copper stills first used by the Combier family. The copper and age of the stills add depth, while the triple-distillation process ensures that only the most pure and aromatic liqueur makes it into each bottle. Hence its crystal clear color.
Each bottle of Combier is produced, packaged, and shipped from the same location since the 19th century.

But what does it taste like? Like Cointreau, this spirit is bottled at 40 % ABV, but I find that it has a bit more of the bitter orange component than Cointreau has, which helps belie the inherent sweetness of the liqueur. As compared to Cointreau, Combier is definitely more assertive both in flavour profile as well as perceived heat. While I would prefer sipping Cointreau neat, Combier’s assertiveness lends itself very well to cocktail construction, and I would have no issue swapping one spirit out for the other, which I think is high praise, given my high regard for Cointreau.

I’ve run out of things to say (or rather, time to say them), so I’ll wrap this up until next time: if I can only remember what the hell the theme of this post was…. Liqueurs? Jerry Thomas? Oh yeah, the Morning Glory a drink invented in 1862 containing cognac, whiskey, absinthe, curaçao, and Champagne.

Thank God for the web.


Morning Glory & Aurora

Morning Glory & Aurora Cocktails

Cocktails and pictures by:
Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer



~ by Jamie Boudreau on February 16, 2009.

14 Responses to “Morning Glory Cocktail & Combier”

  1. Jamie,

    I’m wondering: what do you think about Grand Marnier, compared to Cointreau and Combier Orange liqueur?

  2. I’m confused (it’s normal): At the beginning you say that the drink was “laid out” by Jerry Thomas in 1887. At the end, you say it was invented in 1862. If that’s true, where is the reference and why wouldn’t it have been in the first edition of the book? Or was it?

  3. Buckfast:
    G.M. is an entirely different beast. I’m much more partial to Cointreau as a standard, but one is very able to make good G.M. cocktails.
    The last paragraph was meant to poke fun at my memory. Not only did I get the date wrong, but also the ingredients. That’s why I ended with “Thank God for the web”.

  4. I thought that might be the case, but I’m a little dense, so I wasn’t sure. Now I can rest easy, my cognitive dissonance having been relieved. Thank you kind sir.

  5. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

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  6. I love the use of St. Germain in this cocktail. It really is one of the most versatile and delectable liqueurs in mixing.

  7. Jamie, have you ever tasted Combier’s Royal Combier? It’s apparently similar to Grand Marnier. Ive been reading a bit about it but do not believe that it is available in the US. thanks.

  8. tnutting:
    I have not tried it, I’m afraid.

  9. […] wanted to mention it, I wasn’t sure how to present it, as I’ve already discussed Combier’s other bottling and had compared it favorably to Cointreau in its use in cocktails. My first thought was to compare […]

  10. “the Master Distiller carefully marries the fragrant orange peels with sugar beets delivered straight from the fields of Normandy”

    Is this for real? They’re macerating sugar beets? Or some sort of marketing bull?

  11. Martin:
    They use sugar beets to make alcohol, why not other uses? And realistically, as I referenced that that quote was from their website, perhaps that’s a better place for that question. 😉

  12. I was recently in the Loire Valley, France and had a chance to visit the Combier distillery. To my delight, the family gave me a tour which included viewing first hand a distillation of their original triple sec (in 1800 copper stills designed by Gustave Eiffel!). It was quite a treat and needless to say I’ve become a huge fan!
    To answer Martin’s question, apparently it’s sugar beet alcohol as the base spirit which they macerate the orange peels in – then triple distill. They don’t actually Macerate sugar beets;)
    -trent n.

    thanks Jamie for the air time.

  13. I’ve been trying out the Morning Glory Cocktail myself, but have noticed it’s a bit watery for my taste. Before I grab champagne and try out the M.G.R. and Aurora, is it safe to say I should stir less than I normally would before adding the bubbly to retain more of the taste of the spirits?

  14. […] Abseihen Soda (Champagner…? Champagner!) und Zitronenzeste zu, hält man den anbetungswürdige Morning Glory Cocktail in Händen – ein besseres Getränk zum Start in ein glorreiches Wochenende ist in dieser Welt […]

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