The Emperor Cocktail

The Emperor is a wonderful Unicum cocktail and a great introduction to the herbal liqueur. Considered Hungary’s national drink, it’s a unique spirit made with over 40 herbs and spices and it’s treated very delicately in this recipe.

The texture of the drink is “thick, black, goopy” and so bitter that it is often described as an acquired taste. The drink’s name originates from the words of Holy Roman EmperorJoseph II, who in 1790, when being given the drink, said (in German) “Das ist ein Unikum!” (“This is unique!”).


Unicum Liqueur


Unicum, from the House of Zwack, is often compared to other digestifs, including amaros such as Averna as well as Fernet-Branca and Jägermeister. Its underlying flavor is bitter with pine and hints of eucalyptus, so it’s definitely unique. Some people even tout Unicum’s ability to calm the stomach, which is why it makes fantastic after dinner drinks.

The Recipe

What you need

1 1/2 oz Unicum Herbal Liqueur
2/3 oz light Sweet Vermouth
1 Tsp. orange Curacao

What you do

Chill a cocktail glass (Nick & Nora) or sherry glass

Add all ingredients to mixing glass and fill with ice.


Garnish:orange twist
Serve: Nick & Nora or sherry glass
Style: Strong Digestif
Taste: Pine, eucalyptus

Patrick (Paddy) Moore

Patrick (Paddy) Moore is the author of the series Quarantinis, Eh? featuring cocktails that commemorate the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021.

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