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Although shaking versus stirring is a valid argument when considering the best way to make most cocktails, the pousse-café requires neither. This striking cocktail features layered liquors and liqueurs, which remain separate until the first sip delicately mixes the flavors.

Though somewhat obscure, this category of drinks provides a flash of drama for the holiday party. The only prerequisite is a steady hand for pouring each delicate layer over a bar spoon and into a glass.

“The great thing about pousse-cafés is that they can be made way ahead of time and put in the fridge,” Trujillo says. “Then you can greet people with the chilled pousse-cafés as they come in. They taste better that way also.”

Finding a pousse-café on a drink menu is extremely rare, partly because of the technique and partly because of its outmoded reputation. These layered libations—once usually served with no fewer than six strata—decreased in popularity shortly before the turn of the 20th century. However, considering the abundance of exotic flavors available to the home mixologist, it might be a new dawn for this forgotten potion.

“Liqueurs have really opened up the world for mixologists and even the home bartender who wants to try something new,” Trujillo says. “There are so many options for us now.”



By Jerry Thomas, circa 1862

3/4 oz. curaçao

3/4 oz. kirsch

3/4 oz. green Chartreuse

Pour ingredients one at a time into a small wine glass. Garnish with oil of a lemon peel. 


By David Nepove

1 oz. limoncello

1 oz. Williamine


1/4 oz. absinthe

Pour the limoncello first. Slowly pour the Williamine over the back of a bar spoon, then top with the absinthe. Garnish with candied lem-on peel and mist of Fernet-Branca liqueur (optional).


By Michael Trujillo

1/4 oz. Hum liqueur

1 oz. Mandarine Napoléon liqueur

1 oz. Coole Swan liqueur

Pour the Hum first. Slowly pour the Mandarine Napo-léon over the back of a bar spoon, then top with the Coole Swan.

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