Facts About Yellow Jacket Cocktail

15 Captivating Facts About Yellow Jacket Cocktail

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Yellow Jacket cocktail recipe contains the following key ingredients:

  • 2 ounces reposado tequila (such as Partida)
  • 1 ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1 dash orange bitters (such as Regan’s)

The recipe calls for shaking all the ingredients together with ice and straining them into a chilled glass, such as a Nick & Nora glass. Some variations use gin instead of tequila as the base spirit.

The cocktail is named after the yellow jacket wasps that are attracted to agave plants and tequila distilleries. It has a rich, honey-tinged, herbal, and bittersweet flavor profile from the combination of tequila, elderflower liqueur, and yellow Chartreuse. The orange bitters help balance the sweetness.

The Yellow Jacket is a fun, sweet cocktail with a punch. This popular drink likely originated in the 1920s during Prohibition and has been a staple at bars and parties ever since.

Here are 15 fascinating facts you may not have known about this beloved concoction:

The Yellow Jacket brings together fruit juices, liquor, and sweet liqueurs to create a smooth, flavorful mixed drink. It’s tart yet sweet, strong yet easy to sip. Bright yellow, a good Yellow Jacket will make your tastebuds buzz with delight.

While simple to mix up, this cocktail has a rich history. It emerged during Prohibition to disguise homemade booze and has stuck around as a fun, sweet libation.

Below we’ll explore the Yellow Jacket’s origins, ingredients, and popularity over the decades. We’ll also share some tasty variations and serving tips for this perennial party pleaser.

Yellow Jacket Cocktail

History and Origins

  1. The Yellow Jacket likely originated during Prohibition (1920 to 1933) as a way to make poor-quality bathtub gin more palatable. The sweet fruity mixers helped mask the harsh taste of homemade hooch.
  2. The exact origin of the drink’s name has been lost to history. But since yellow jackets are black and yellow like the cocktail, this is one likely inspiration.
  3. The Yellow Jacket first appeared in print in the 1930 book Old Man Drinks by Robert Vermeire. This early recipe called for rum, orange juice, egg yolk, sweet wine, and absinthe.


  1. Traditional Yellow Jacket recipes use gin or vodka as the primary spirit, but rum is also popular. Bourbon makes for a good variation too.
  2. Citrus juices like orange, lemon, or lime add a tart, fruity base. Grenadine or other fruit syrups contribute sweetness.
  3. Common liqueurs include triple sec, yellow Chartreuse, St. Germain, or Benedictine. Their herbal and floral notes nicely complement the fruit.
Gin or vodkaBase spirit
Orange juiceTart citrus
Triple secOrange liqueur

Popularity Over the Decades

  1. During the 1950s cocktail craze, the Yellow Jacket became a staple at hotel bars and lounges. Its sweetness made it an approachable introductory cocktail.
  2. Like many classic drinks, the Yellow Jacket fell out of favor during the 1970s and 80s when sugary mixes and shots proliferated.
  3. In the early 2000s, the craft cocktail renaissance helped revive this vintage tipple along with other Prohibition-era drinks.
  4. Today the Yellow Jacket remains a popular choice for brunch cocktails or as a fun, accessible selection for novices. The recent hard seltzer boom has also spawned new canned versions.

Tasty Variations

  1. The Yellow Jacket’s basic template makes it highly customizable to one’s taste. Vary the citrus, sweetener, and liqueur to create your own signature version.
  2. Some tasty Yellow Jacket twists include:
    • Subbing cranberry for orange juice
    • Adding Chambord raspberry liqueur
    • Using ginger beer instead of lemon-lime soda
    • Floating blackberry brandy on top
  3. Yellow Jacket #2 uses bourbon instead of gin. A Stinger Yellow Jacket incorporates white crème de menthe. And a Vodka Yellow Jacket swaps vodka for the standard gin.

Serving Tips

  1. Yellow Jackets are ideally served chilled in a rocks glass over ice to preserve their crisp, refreshing taste. But they also work well in a cocktail glass sans ice.
  2. Garnish with a thin lemon wheel or brandied cherry to provide a nice pop of color. Sugar the rim for extra sweetness or spice it up with chili-lime salt.


What are the key ingredients in a Yellow Jacket cocktail?

The key ingredients in a Yellow Jacket cocktail are reposado tequila, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, and orange bitters.

What is the origin of the Yellow Jacket cocktail?

The exact origin of the Yellow Jacket cocktail is unclear, but it likely emerged during Prohibition as a way to make poor-quality homemade alcohol more palatable.

What makes the Yellow Jacket cocktail unique?

The Yellow Jacket cocktail stands out for its rich, honey-tinged, herbal, and bittersweet flavor profile. It combines tequila, elderflower liqueur, and yellow Chartreuse to create a distinctive taste experience.

Can I substitute the base spirit in a Yellow Jacket cocktail?

Yes, while the traditional recipe calls for gin or vodka, you can experiment with other spirits such as rum or bourbon to create your variation of the Yellow Jacket cocktail.

Are there any variations of the Yellow Jacket cocktail?

Yes, there are several tasty variations of the Yellow Jacket cocktail. Some popular options include using cranberry juice instead of orange juice, adding Chambord raspberry liqueur, or substituting ginger beer for lemon-lime soda.


The Yellow Jacket has certainly earned its iconic status in the cocktail pantheon. Born of Prohibition ingenuity, kept alive by decades of bartenders, this sweet and citrusy libation retains a bright, youthful flavor profile.

Vintage yet timeless, this sunshine-hued drink promises a smooth sipping experience with a subtle sting. Next time you crave an accessible crowd-pleaser, consider whipping up a round of Yellow Jackets. Just beware – they go down very easily!

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