Mixing Up History with a Dash of Mystery: Napoleon’s Loss
As the sun sets and the evening begins to unfold, there’s nothing I relish more than playing hostess to my circle of friends and esteemed clients (who became friends). It’s within these gatherings I proudly don the hat of the group’s chief mixologist—a title I wear with both honor and enthusiasm. Over the years, my penchant for crafting delectable concoctions has not only become a signature of our get-togethers but has also given birth to my very own brand, Wacky Girl’s Margarita. Bottles of my handcrafted margarita mixes have become the go-to gift for friends and clients alike, embodying the spirit of celebration and camaraderie.
In my relentless pursuit of mixology excellence, I constantly find myself delving into the art of creating new recipes, each with its own story and flair. Though I am not above pirating an amazing recipe, so must give credit to James Lombardino of the bar 1534! Today, I’m thrilled to share with you my current favorite—the cocktail that has been the talk of many evenings, “Napoleon’s Loss.”
Napoleon’s Loss Cocktail
Delve into the rich tapestry of history with the Napoleon’s Loss cocktail, a sophisticated blend of Anejo Tequila, smoky Mezcal, refreshing lemon juice, and homemade ginger-agave syrup. This concoction is a journey through time, inspired by the historical nuances of Napoleon’s adventures in Mexico. Perfect for those who appreciate drinks with unique spicy character.
Prep Time: 10 minutes – Cook Time: 0 minutes – Yield: 1 serving – Tags: Low fat – Nutrition facts: Calories 186, Fat Content 0 grams
- 2 oz Tequila Anejo
- ¼ oz Mezcal (the inventor of the drink calls for Del Maguey, I like Nosotros)
- ½ oz lemon juice
- ¾ oz ginger-agave syrup (recipe below)
- Ginger Agave Syrup: Combine ginger juice (from the health food store or pressed in your juicer at home) and agave syrup in a 1:1 ratio and shake vigorously; no boiling is needed. The syrup keeps for about one week in the fridge.
Recipe by Debra Dobbs, February 2, 2024
What is the origin of Napoleon’s Loss Cocktail?
The name will certainly appeal to those interested in history. Naming cocktails after historical events is certainly nothing unusual, and so you might think that this cocktail could also have been named “Waterloo” or something like that. But far from it, as the drink has nothing to do with Napoleon Bonaparte.
Now things get a little bit more complicated because it’s more about Napoleon III. and the consequences of the Mexican Civil War between 1857 and 1861. At this point, it would not surprise me if a majority now no longer knows what the drink was named after. I felt exactly the same way, although I would describe myself as interested in history. But Mexican history belongs (apart from the earlier epochs of discoverers’ times) probably not to the canon of commonly known historical events; at least not in Germany. Therefore I had to do a quick research and will give you a short summary: After a civil war for reformation between liberals and conservatives in Mexico between 1857 and 1861, the conservatives faced a crushing defeat. To pursue their own interests, France under the ruler of Napoleon III decided to intervene on the side of the beaten conservatives and installed their own puppet emperor on a newly created Mexican throne. After facing pressure from the United States, the French troops ultimately left the country in 1866, and at the Battle of Cerro de las Campanas in 1867 the Mexicans defeated the army of the puppet emperor. In effect, it was also a resounding defeat for Napoleon III.
These events inspired today’s thoroughly Mexican drink. It was invented in ‘1534’, a French-inspired colonial style bar in Nolita, Manhattan. The man behind the recipe is James Lombardino, who introduced his patrons to the taste of quality Mezcal because many were only familiar with “ordinary” tequila.
And so Napoleon’s Loss is a very interesting combination of Anejo Tequila, smoky mezcal, lemon juice, and ginger-agave syrup, which you can also replace with regular ginger syrup in an emergency. Nonetheless, it is not the same thing! Fortunately, the ginger-agave syrup is really not difficult to make; you do not even have to boil it.