The Improved Holland Gin Cocktail #0
Intense | Citrus | Classic

The Improved Holland Gin Cocktail recipe

The Improved Holland Gin cocktail

What is an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail?

History and background

The Holland cocktail is a 200-year-old recipe created by the father of all bartenders: Jerry Thomas. The Improved (Holland) Gin cocktail was first published in writing in Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender's Guide in 1876. By using Holland Gin (or Bols Genever), the cocktail gains more character, and the addition of Bols Maraschino creates greater depth compared to the first version of the recipe. That's why the cocktail proudly carries the name ‘Improved’. After the worldwide reintroduction of Bols Genever using an 1820s recipe, cocktail historian David Wondrich put this cocktail classic back on the map.

Flavour Improved Holland Gin Cocktail

The Improved Holland Gin cocktail is without a doubt a classic cocktail created by the master himself, ‘The Professor’ Jerry Thomas. Powerful, boozy, aromatic and created according to the original definition of a cocktail: spirit(s), bitter(s), sugar and water (ice). The combination of the powerful flavours in the Bols Genever, Maraschino, Angostura bitters and absinthe is mind blowing. All these flavours are uncovered layer by layer when you drink this cocktail, graduating from sweet and fruity flavours, to aniseed and herbal flavours and, finally, a subtle bitterness and an astoundingly long finish. The Improved Holland cocktail is certainly a connoisseur's cocktail and a bartender's favourite. But beyond the cocktail's complexity, it also has a warmth and smoothness that makes it quite accessible to the casual drinker.

Ingredients for The Improved Holland Gin Cocktail

How to make an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail?

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass. Fill the mixing glass with ice cubes and stir the cocktail for around 20 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish the cocktail with lemon zest.

What bar tools do you need to make an Improved Holland Gin cocktail?

  • Mixing glass
  • Strainer
  • Jigger

Improved Holland Gin Cocktail garnish
Lemon zest


Improved Holland Gin Cocktail recipe variations
Variation 1: Base Spirit
An Improved Holland Gin cocktail can't be made with anything other than Holland Gin, also known as Genever. Luckily, there are many different varieties of Genever available. Try Bols Barrel Aged Genever to add even more of the malt wine that characterises the Improved Holland Gin cocktail and to give the drink a little more depth from the barrel-aged flavours.

Variation 2: Modifier
There's some confusion among bartenders regarding the correct recipe for the Improved Holland Gin cocktail. The very first recipe written by Jerry Thomas uses Maraschino liqueur. Many bartenders like to use Orange Curaçao instead of Maraschino. This results in a very delicious version of the Improved Holland Gin cocktail, but it's not the original recipe.

Variation 3: Modifier #2
Absinthe gives the Improved Holland Gin cocktail its distinctive fennel and aniseed flavours. You only need a few drops. If you want to add more herbal notes to the Improved Holland Gin cocktail, use Galliano L’Autentico instead of absinthe. Replace the dash of absinthe with 10 ml Galliano L’Autentico and the cocktail will be more herbal, yet smoother.

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