What's the deal with BOOMERANG COCKTAILS?

The first time I heard about the secret bartenders ritual of "boomerang cocktails" I was in New Orleans hanging at a friend's bar. I watched as he crafted up an interesting looking libation and then, instead of placing it in front of a customer, he put some of that clingy kitchen wrap over the rim, scribbled something on the plastic with a Sharpie, packed it in a gift bag, poured some bar mix around it and handed it to one of his bussers who promptly hurried out the back door with it.

He had this little smile playing around his lips that piqued my curiosity even more so I stuck my snoopy nose in and asked what was up with the bag of booze and bar snacks. He said, "Boomerang Time." So I bit and said, "Boomerang Time?" (WTH?)

Turns out there was a nifty little "thang" going on between local bartenders where they sent each other drinks as a friendly gesture, sort of a cocktail industry Amuse Booze. Perfectly legal in New Orleans where they have an open container law that allows alcohol to take to the streets. Not so legal in other places where I understand this practice also occurs, but much more sub rosa.

It's also supposed to be some big bartender clique secret, but not so much anymore as I've found several references to it since. So I feel a bit less guilty about tattling on the covert practice and ratting out my friend. . .

All this brings me to today's cocktail, the Boomerang. No association to the boomerang cocktail practice of gifting fellow bartenders that I'm aware of, the recipe has been around considerably longer than the practice. But thinking of my friend, now a restaurateur in another part of the world, brought to mind that night and reminded me of the cocktail.

There are two versions of the Boomerang, don't ask me why; one gin and one bourbon. I was in a martini mood so went with the gin. The bourbon version is more like a very sweet lemony Manhattan, also good!


2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
2 dashes Bitters
1/2 tsp Maraschino Liqueur
1 Maraschino Cherry
Lemon Twist

Chill a high ball (old fashioned)* glass in the freezer. Add the gin, dry vermouth, bitters and Maraschino liqueur to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled then strain into a chilled glass filled with an ice ball. Garnish with a twist of lemon and a Maraschino cherry.

*Traditionally, the Gin Boomerang is served up in a martini glass, but I find it more pleasant slightly diluted by some ice and served in a high ball glass.


2 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
2 dashes Bitters
1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur
1 Maraschino Cherry
Lemon Twist

Same directions as the gin version, glassware too. I pour this "over" as well, but I've also made it "up" in a martini glass

So, there you go. A little bartender Easter egg, an Amuse Booze with secret society panache and a couple of versions of a nice cocktail. Cheers and enjoy!

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