Chinchona Blanco

My version of a misspelled and poorly named cocktail is actually delicate and delicious!


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So “cinchona” is a type of bark that was used to extract quinine for malaria medicine and tonic water. However, the misspelled “chinchona” is a cocktail supposedly developed at the Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan that has nothing to do with cinchona bark, quinine or tonic water. WTF?!?! Perhaps it’s the internet’s fault for the misspelling, but what do tequila and the French apertif wine Lillet have to do with a Peruvian bark? Nothing. However, it is a nice tasty pairing of tequila and Lillet, but my version switches out the original Lillet Rouge for Lillet Blanc to make it more delicate, and adds some fresh squeezed orange juice to add a subtle fruity flavor. I have to admit that I have no idea how I ran across this recipe, as it’s kind of obscure – probably from one of my mixology apps – but I also must confess that I didn’t have Lillet Rouge at the time so I created my “blanco” version without ever tasting the original. Since then I made the original, but I’ve only made it with silver tequila rather than añejo, so it might taste a bit more mellow and flavorful with the smoother aged tequila, or you might even try it with mezcal for a smoky palate.  Whatever – try a few variations – it’s definitely worth a taste, and I like my “blanco” version better than the original, but if you do my version make sure to get a really sweet and juicy orange for the juice. Otherwise it might be a bit bitter, and if you use regular orange juice in a bottle it’ll taste like crap. Okay, maybe that’s not the best endorsement, but this is a tricky yet wonderful drink if you do it right, and if you fuck it up…. Well, it has tequila!


  • 1 ½ oz. tequila blanco

  • 1 oz. Lillet Blanc

  • 1 oz. fresh squeezed orange

  • ½ oz. Cointreau

  • 2 dashes orange bitters

  • garnish with orange twist


Stir with ice, strain and serve in chilled aperitif glass.

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All cocktail photos and written content for Drinking and Thinking... © 2019 by Dave Hebb