“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” Or so the saying goes.

Today marks the start of the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey. If that ain’t a bowl of lemons, then I don’t know what is. But in researching for appropriate British dishes to commemorate the final season, I stumbled across an interesting tidbit of information. Queen Elizabeth’s favorite libation is a Dubonnet Cocktail and she supposedly has one every day before lunch. What a nice way to kick-start the afternoon.

The Dubonnet Cocktail

Tipple for a Queen – The Dubonnet Cocktail

Dubonnet is a French aperitif that was created in 1846 by Parisian chemist/wine merchant Joseph Dubonnet as a means to make quinine more palatable for the soldiers in North Africa that battled malaria. Dubonnet is a mix of fortified wine, herbs, spices and peels. Santé Magazine’s tasting panel describes it as having “cherry, mint and walnut aromas, with notes of lemon zest, cardamom and toffee…with flavors of orange, nuts, chocolate and coffee; finishes fairly sweet with lemon and herb notes.” Seriously, who writes this stuff? As if anyone can distinguish all those flavors in one alcoholic liquid unless they already know the ingredients and want to act all professional!

Dubonnet Cocktail

The Dubonnet Cocktail for a warm winters night

Anyway, there is not much malaria here in the desert, so I am looking for a cocktail that entices the palate, serves as a palliative for the day’s stresses, and has some correlation to Downton Abbey. So for that reason the Dubonnet Cocktail I’m sharing skips the quinine and substitutes a London Dry Gin instead (rumor has it that Gordon’s London Dry Gin is the Queen’s favorite). The beautiful ruby color and port like taste give this cocktail a nice holiday look and feel and enough substance to combat a winter chill. It’s my choice to start off the final Downton Abbey season. After all, if the Queen approves I’m sure Carson will too.

The Dubonnet Cocktail
Prep time

Total time


Recipe type: Cocktail
Serves: 1

  • 2 ounces Dubonnet
  • 1 ounce Gordon’s London Dry Gin
  • 1 Lemon Twist for garnish

  1. Place ingredients in cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and pour. Garnish with Lemon Twist