Downton Abbey Cocktail Recipe: The Dowager Countess Cocktail

updated May 2, 2019
The Dowager Countess
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(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

You, me and millions of others just got our Downton Abbey fix last Sunday. After what seemed like years, we once again filled our homes with that indelible theme song. Sunday’s premiere proved that Season Four is sure to bring many magnificent moments — and of course a few more one liners from the fantastic Maggie Smith’s portrayal of the Dowager Countess. For this happy hour, we’re stirring up a toast in honor of the undeniably cheeky Violet Crawley.

(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

There’s so much to adore about this series, but the zingers delivered by Violet Crawley, best known as the Dowager Countess, are among its finest moments. The restraint in her delivery of lines like, “Poor Edith” or her heavily weighted yet simple response, “Really?” capture the viewer leaving us uncomfortably cringing and applauding all at once.

Among my favorite quotes from the masterful Maggie are: Her response to Sir Richard when he says he doubts they’ll meet again, to which she replies, “Do you promise?” And my all time favorite quote from season one, “What is a weekend?”

Each of these along with countless others are deserving of a toast. So to add to our already fabulous collection of Downton Abbey cocktails, this week’s happy hour is all about the Dowager Countess.

While she doesn’t sip much besides tea on the show, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s slipping a nip of brandy in there. In the past she has remarked that some cocktails were far too exciting for her to tip so early in an evening, however this one seems suitable for such an occasion. In one glass we’re summing up our Dowager Countess with a drink that’s delicious, memorable and delivers a zing with the addition of Fernet Branca.

Here’s to the return of Downton Abbey and a lovely little tipple for you to serve at your Season Four premiere party.

The Dowager Countess


Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/2 ounces

    of gin

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    of sweet vermouth

  • 3 dashes

    of Fernet Branca

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    club soda, chilled

  • Orange twist for garnish


  1. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet Branca. Stir until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with club soda.

  2. Run the orange peel's orange side along the glass and twist to express the oils. Drop into the glass or perch on the edge of the glass.

Recipe Notes

You can substitute sparkling wine for the club soda.

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