The 9-Bottle Bar Recipe: The Fig Leaf

updated Jan 29, 2020
The Fig Leaf Cocktail
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(Image credit: Roger Kamholz)

For fans of sweet vermouth, the Fig Leaf cocktail is the kind of drink that ought to be in your regular rotation. Unlike the majority of cocktail recipes, in which the spirit is the most plentiful ingredient, the build of the Fig Leaf is heavy on the aperitif wine rather than the booze (in this case, light rum). This drink falls into the category bartenders often call “reverse cocktails.”

(Image credit: Roger Kamholz)

The drink’s origins aren’t well recorded, but the research I’ve come across notes that recipes for the Fig Leaf appeared in Trader Vic’s 1947 Bartender’s Guide as well as the 1975 edition of Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Official Mixer’s Manual. It’s possible that Trader Vic (aka Victor Bergeron) adapted his recipe from a similar drink he came across in Hugo Ensslin’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks (1916 – 1917), in which a libation named the Fluffy Ruffles called for shaking equal parts of Cuban rum and Italian (a.k.a. sweet) vermouth, along with a lime rind.

From the Fluffy Ruffles, it’s easy to imagine arriving at the Fig Leaf: punch up the vermouth’s presence, add some bitters to balance things out, and you’ve got a light-bodied, wine-forward aperitif cocktail. Since the sweet vermouth plays such a major role, the Fig Leaf offers a prime opportunity to showcase your finest stuff, such as the robust and flavorful Carpano Antica Formula.

(Image credit: Roger Kamholz)

The Fig Leaf Cocktail

Serves 1

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/2 ounces

    sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica Formula

  • 1 ounce

    light rum

  • 1/2 ounce

    lime juice

  • 2 dashes

    Angostura bitters


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a Boston shaker or cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain the contents into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime peel.