Queens Park Swizzle (QPS). Always a hit when made by Sugar + Shake because you can choose your own bitters flavor — we have over a dozen. © Sugar + ShakeI’ve been sadly neglecting the “Sips” part of the Sugar + Shake “mission statement.” Sorry ‘bout that. We (shockingly) haven’t been trying out anything new lately, and since it’s like pulling teeth to get Shake to write up something about his favorite sips, I’m going to take this opportunity to share an old favorite of ours: The Queen’s Park Swizzle.

We discovered this drink via Bon Appétit, but—frustratingly—the damn recipe gave measures in tablespoons and cups. This is a pain for cocktails, but not the worst thing in the world…except…the recipe as given made two portions, which was truly obnoxious because you make these drinks in individual glasses, not in a shaker or pitcher. I had to convert all the measures and do the math for Shake (he hates math more than I do…and I really hate it) to figure out the correct amount to make one cocktail. Grrrrr… Arrrrggghhh! The BA folks do a lovely job, however, of explaining the drink’s origins, so do check it out.

Despite the early recipe challenges we experienced, this cocktail was worth it. It became a favorite quickly, and a big hit at gatherings with friends. This was, no doubt, in no small part due to the large selection of bitters we possess (by which I mean, Shake possesses). You see, part of the fun of the QPS, at least the way Sugar + Shake make them, is that you can choose your own bitters flavor. Even friends who don’t drink fell in love with this; we make it with club soda, instead of rum, for them.

A portion of Shake’s bitters collection. A Valentine’s gift from Sugar. © Sugar + Shake

Two words of caution: 1) This drink takes a lot of crushed ice. A lot. A lot. 2) These can sneak up on you. Especially if you attempt to try all the bitters flavors consecutively. Sip with caution.

Queen’s Park Swizzle

Note: The proportions below are the ones we use, and are based on my crap math skills converting and dividing the Bon Appétit recipe we first encountered. Other recipes (such as this one from Imbibe, that actually give ounce measures for single drinks) use a slightly different proportion of rum, lime juice and simple syrup: 3 oz. rum, ½ oz. each lime and syrup. You can go either way, to your taste. Personally, I like the more intense flavor and lower alcohol content in ours.

  • 2 ounces rum
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • ¾ ounce syrup
  • Generous bunch of fresh mint
  • Your favorite flavor of bitters

Special equipment: Bar spoon or swizzle stick (absolutely necessary for a proper QPS)

Glasses ready for Swizzling. © Sugar + Shake

Muddle approximately 6 to 10 mint leaves with the lime juice and simple syrup in a highball glass. Add rum, then add crushed ice to nearly the top of the glass. Swizzle—spin the spoon rapidly between your hands (rub your hands together, one on each side of the spoon handle, as if you were trying to warm them, Mr. Miyagi-style)—vigorously until the sides of the glass begin to frost up. Add more crushed ice to fill glass completely, making a nice little snow mound at the top of the glass. Dash bitters over the ice and serve with a straw and a mint garnish.

For extra party fun, put out a selection of bitters and let everyone choose their poison. Remind everyone that 2-4 dashes per drink should be sufficient. (Non-bitters experienced folk tend to go a bit overboard, trying to color up the drink.)

It’s prettiest when the bitters sit at the top and slowly drip down through the drink, but you may decide you prefer to give it a brief stir to incorporate the flavor. It’s your drink. Do what you like.