Drinks

Dubonnet Citron

Dubonnet Citron.

This is a French refreshment that was already enjoyed by the whole family in the course rooms of the spas and seaside resorts around 1900.

50 ml Dubonnet
7,5 ml lemon juice
60 ml Thomas Henry soda
(lemon zest)

Preparation: Stirred in a highball glass, sprinkle with lemon zest and decorate.

We have come to know this drink as the Dubonnet Highball. But is it one? One can have doubts about that. As our analysis of the Bourbon Highball and of Highballs in general has shown, lemon juice does not belong in a highball, because with it it ceases to be a highball in the sense of the classic definition. This clear demarcation, however, became blurred. It is true that the first recipes for a Dubonnet Highball are a mixture of Dubonnet, Old Tom gin and soda water. Trader Vic, on the other hand, seems to have been the first to publish the mixture of Dubonnet, lemon juice and soda as Dubonnet Highball in 1948. But that is not what it should be called. Instead, perhaps Upstairs Cocktail? At least that’s what Robert Buckby and George Stone thought in 1925. But this is not a cocktail, and besides, there are older predecessors.

This is the Dubonnet Citron. However, it differs slightly from our recipe. The Dubonnet Citron is made with lemon syrup, whereas our version is made with lemon juice. But that doesn’t really make much difference, the Dubonnet already contains sugar, and this is enough to balance out the small amount of lemon juice. Harry McElhone, on the other hand, uses two parts Dubonnet to one part lemon syrup in 1923. With such a ratio, of course, no additional sugar is needed.

Even though Harry McElhone seems to be the first to publish Dubonnet Citron in a recipe book in 1923, the latter already had a tradition in France at that time.

As early as 1899, a French magazine described in an article how several students got off the train at a station and wanted to have some refreshment, but did not quite know which one to take. A merchant who came along asked for some Quinquina Dubonnet with a spoonful of lemon syrup mixed with cool water. The students also chose this refreshment. [1] In Le Figaro on 17 July 1904, it says Dubonnet-Citron is a refreshment consisting of Dubonnet, lemon syrup and cool seltzer water. [2]

Dubonnet Citron - Le Matin, 5. August 1904, page 6.
Dubonnet Citron – Le Matin, 5. August 1904, page 6. [3]

In 1904, the Dubonnet Citron is advertised in Le Matin. “Dubonnet Citron time in the course rooms of the spas and seaside resorts. In the holidays and in this heat, it is the pleasant moment of the day when monsieur, madame and infant gather to enjoy their favourite drink; a glass of Dubonnet with a spoonful of lemon syrup, all diluted with cool seltzer water.[3]

– „L’heure du Dubonnet-Citron dans les Casinos des stations thermales et balnéaires. Pendant les vacances et par ces chaleurs, c’est le moment agréable de la journée où Monsieur, Madame et Bébé se réunissent pour déguster leur boisson favorite; un verre de Dubonnet additionné d’une cuillerée de sirop de citron, le tout étendu d’eau de Seltz fraîche.[3]

We can see from this that the recipe given by Harry McElhone does not seem to correspond to French usage. Much less lemon syrup is added. The use of lemon syrup may also be due to its better preservation. Fresh lemons were perhaps not always available everywhere, or were too expensive, so lemon syrup was used. If you use relatively little of this, you don’t run the risk of making the Dubonnet Citron too sweet.

We follow the recommendation from the Boilerman Bar in Eppendorfer Weg, where we enjoyed this refreshment for the first time, and serve it with a lemon zest, even though this was not originally intended.

Sources
  1. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6319108n/f922.double.r=%22dubonnet%20citron%22 Bulletin du diocèse e Reims. No. 34, 26. August 1899.
  2. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k286676h/f1.item.r=%22dubonnet%20citron%22.zoom Le Figaro. 17. July 1904. page 1.
  3. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k559692d/f6.item.r=%22dubonnet%20citron%22.zoom Le Matin. 5. August 1904, page 6.
Dubonnet Citron.
Dubonnet Citron.

Historical recipes

We have not listed the recipes for the Upstairs cocktail here; they are listed in the article about the Upstairs, which will be published soon.

1909 Jacob A. Didier: The Reminder. Seite 60. Dubonnet Highball.

Use highball glass.
1 piece of ice.
2/3 drink of Tom gin.
1/3 drink Quinquina Dubonnet.
Fill with syphon soda and serve
with spoon.

1913 Hans Schönfeld & John Leybold: Lexikon der Getränke. Seite 59. Dubonnet Highball.

In ein Highballglas gebe: 1 Stck. Eis,
2/3 Cocktailglas Old-Tom-Gin, 1/3 Cocktailglas Quin-
quina-Dubonnet und fülle auf mit Krondorfer Sauer-
brunn.

1917 Jacob A. Didier: The Reminder. Seite 60. Dubonnet Cocktail.

Use highball glass.
1 piece of ice.
2/3 drink of Tom gin.
1/3 drink Quinquina Dubonnet.
Fill with syphon soda and serve
with spoon.

1923 Harry McElhone: „Harry“ of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails. Seite 73. Dubonnet Citron.

1 glass Dubonnet, 1/2 glass Syrup Citron, balance
Soda Water.

1926 Harry McElhone: Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails. Seite 91. Dubonnet Citron.

1 glass Dubonnet, 1/2 glass Syrup Citron, balance
Soda Water.

1927 Harry McElhone: Barflies and Cocktails. Seite 74. Dubonnet Citron.

1 glass Dubonnet, 1/2 glass Syrup Citron, balance Soda
Water.

1927 Jean Lupoiu: 370 recettes de cocktails. Seite 12. Dubonnet Citron.

1/4 citron, 1 verre Dubonnet, 1/4 Per-
rier.

1927 Maraya Vélez de Sánchez: Cocktails bebidas heladas ponches de todas clases. Seite 23. Dubonnet Citron.

Se mezclan una copa de Dubonnet, media de jarabe de
limón y un poco de agua de soda.

1927 Piero Grandi: Cocktails. Seite 109. Dubonnet Citron.

Un verre de Dubonnet, 1/2 verre de Sirop
de Citron, remplis sez avec du Soda Water.

1930 Harry McElhone: Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails. Seite 85. Dubonnet Citron.

1 glass Dubonnet, 1/2 glass Syrup Citron, balance
Soda Water.

1930 William T. Boothby: „Cocktail Bill“ Boothby’s World Drinks. Seite 94. Dubonnet-Citron.

Dubonnet . . . . . . . 1 jigger Citron Syrup . . . . . . 1/2 jigger
. Plain Soda . . . . . . . . to fill
Stir well with ice and strain into highball glass. Add lump of ice, soda
to fill and serve.

1933 Antonio Josa: Cocktelera Universal. Seite 51. Dubonet-Citron.

En una copa de vermouth se pone una
cucharadita de Jarabe de limón.
Una copita de las de Jerez, de Dubonet y
se termina de llenar la copa con agua de
Seltz muy fría.

1933 George A. Lurie: Here’s How. Seite 94. Dubonnet-Citron.

Dubonnet . . . . . . . . . 1 jigger Citron Syrup . . . . . . . . 1 pony
. Plain Soda . . . . . . . . . to fill
Stir well with ice and strain into highball glass. Add cube
of ice, soda to fill and serve.

1934 Harry McElhone: Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails. Seite 101. Dubonnet Citron.

1 glass Dubonnet, 1/2 glass Syrup Citron, balance
Soda Water.

1934 William T. Boothby: „Cocktail Bill“ Boothby’s World Drinks. Seite 189. Dubonnet-Citron.

Dubonnet . . . . . . . . 1 jigger Lemon Syrup . . . . 1/2 jigger
. Plain Soda . . . . . . . . to fill
Stir well with ice and strain into highball glass. Add lump of ice, soda
to fill and serve.

1935 Leo Cotton: Old Mr. Boston. Seite 46. Dubonnet Highball.

To 1 Cube of Ice, add 1 Drink of
Dubonnet, fill up with Carbon­
ated Water or Ginger Ale. Serve
with small bar spoon in glass and
a piece of Lemon Peel if desired.
Use 8 oz. Highball glass.

1936 Frank Meier: The Artistry of Mixing Drinks. Seite 73. Dubonnet Citron.

In tumbler or large wineglass:
a piece of Ice, a tablespoon of
Lemon syrup, one glass of Du-
bonnet; add Schweppes soda
water or syphon and serve.

1937 R. de Fleury: 1800 – And All That. Seite 192. Daiquiri Citron.

1/2 Glass Dubonnet
1/6 Glass Syrup de
Citron
Fill up with Iced Soda
Water and serve very
cold.
(Byrrh, Bannuyls, Kina
Lillet, etc., can be
served in the same way
with Syrup de Citron.)

1938 Jean Lupoiu: Cocktails. Seite 27. Dubonnet Citron.

1 cuillerée à café de sirop de citron, 1 verre
de Dubonnet, 1/4 Perrier.

1940 Charles: The Cocktail Book. Seite 150. Dubonnet Citron.

1/2 gill of Dubonnet,
1/6 gill of sirop de citron (lemon).
Alternatives to Dubonnet include Amer Picon, Byrrh,
and Mandarin.

1946 Oscar Haimo: Cocktail and Wine Digest. Seite 52. Dubonnet Highball.

Same as Wine Highball but use Du­-
bonnet
See page 104

Seite 104. Wine Highball.

Lumps of ice in tall glass
3 oz. Wine
(red or white)
Top with Sparkling Canada Dry Water
Stir (Twist of lemon peel if
desired)

1948 David A. Embury: The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Seite 272. Dubonnet-Citron.

DUBONNET-CITRON Made like a Byrrh-Citron, but
with Dubonnet in place of Byrrh.

Seite 272. Byrrh-Citron.

1 pony Citron Syrup 1
1 jigger Byrrh
Prepare like the Vermouth-Cassis.

1 Citron (see’-trohN) is French for lemon. Citron syrup is
lemon syrup. In Europe it can be obtained ready-made and
bottled. It is better, however, when freshly prepared by mix-
ing lemon juice and sugar syrup, about 2 to 1.

1948 Jean Lupoiu: Cocktails. Seite 20. Dubonnet Citron.

1 cuillerée à café de sirop de citron,
1 verre de Dubonnet, 1/4 Perrier.

1948 Trader Vic: Bartender’s Guide. Seite 332. Dubonnet Highball.

3 oz. Dubonnet 1 tsp. lemon juice
Stir with cracked ice in highball glass; fill with plain soda.

1949 Anonymus: Bottoms Up. Seite 33. Dubonnet Highball.

1 Cube of Ice
2 oz. Dubonnet
Fill 8 oz. Highball glass with Ginger
Ale or Carbonated Water. Add
Twist of Lemon Peel, if desired, and
stir gently.

1949 Emile Bauwens: Livre de Cocktails. Seite 97. Dubonnet Fizz.

1 Cuiller Cherry Brandy –
Jus 1/4 Citron –
Jus 1/2 Orange –
1 Verre Dubonnet –
Frapper au shaker et passer dans un
verre à fizz; avant de servir, ajouter
de Veau gazeuse.

1949 Harry Schraemli: Das grosse Lehrbuch der Bar. Seite 342. Dubonnet-Citron-Cocktail.

In einen grossen Tumbler gibt man mehrere Stückchen
Roheis, den Saft von 1/2 Zitrone oder 1/2 Citronelle,
1 Glas Dubonnet. Gut umrühren, auffüllen mit Soda­
wasser. Mit Barlöffel servieren.

1950 Julio Cesar Clave: El Barman Pratico. Dubonnet Fizz.

1 Chs. Limón (jugo), 1/2 cucha-
radita azúcar, 1 Chs. Cherry Brandy, 50 Grs. Dubon-
net. Batido. Copa N° 14. 1 Chs. Soda.

1950 Ted Shane: Authentic and Hilarious Bar Guide. Seite 38. Dubonnet [Highball].

3 oz. Dubonnet 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
Stir with cracked ice and fill with plain soda.

1953 Anonymus: Manual del bar. Seite 265. Upstairs.

. El Jugo de medio Limón.
Batido. 60 gramos de Dubonnet.
Servido en un vaso de Se terminar de llenar con
aperitivo. soda.

1952 Anonymus: Cocktails. Seite 123. Dubonnet Citron.

Dans un tumbler:
Un morceau de glace,
Une cuiller à soupe de sirop de citron,
Un verre de Dubonnet,
Terminer avec du Schweppes soda ou du
siphon et servir.

1952 Charles: The Cocktail Bar. Seite 150. Dubonnet Citron.

1/2 gill of Dubonnet,
1/6 gill of sirop de citron
(lemon).
Alternatives to Dubonnet include Amer Picon, Byrrh,
and Mandarin.

1953 Anonymus: Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts. Seite 129. Dubonnet.

1 glass Dubonnet
1/2 glass lemon syrup
Balance soda water

1953 David A. Embury: The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Seite 276. Dubonnet-Citron.

Made like a Byrrh-Citron, but with Du-
bonnet in place of Byrrh.

Seite 276. Byrrh-Citron.

1 pony Citron Syrup1
1 jigger Byrrh
Prepare like the Vermouth-Cassis.

1 Citron (see’-trohn) is French for lemon. Citron syrup is lemon syrup. In Europe
it can be obtained ready-made and bottled. It is better, however, when freshly prepared by mixing lemon juice and sugar syrup, about 2 to 1.

1953 Leo Cotton: Old Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide. Seite 59. Dubonnet Highball.

1 Cube of Ice
2 oz. Dubonnet
Fill 8 oz. Highball glass with Ginger
Ale or Carbonated Water. Add twist
of Lemon Peel, if desired, and stir
gently.

1955 Jean Lupoiu: Cocktails. Seite 23. Dubonnet Citron.

1 cuillerée à café de citron,
1 verre de Dubonnet, compléter avec
Schweppes Soda Water.

1963 Luigi Veronelli: I cocktails. Seite 45. Dubonnet Highball.

2 bicchieri da cocktail di dubonnet
2 bicchieri di ghiaccio tritato,
seltz o soda water o ginger ale o coca cola, o altra
bibita gassata (quella che preferite purché sia fred-
dissima)
Versare nel mixer il ghiaccio tritato, aggiungere il du-
bonnet e mescolare. Versare nei bicchieri da highball e
completare con la bibita scelta. Servire subito.

1963 Luigi Veronelli: I cocktails. Seite 296. Dubonnet Highball.

2 bicchieri da cocktail di dubonnet
2 bicchieri di ghiaccio tritato
seltz, o soda water, o ginger ale, o coca cola, o altra
bibita gassata (quella che preferite purché sia fred-
dissima)
Versare nel mixer il ghiaccio tritato. Aggiungere il du-
bonnet e mescolare. Versare nei bicchieri da highball e
completare con la bibita scelta. Servire subito.

1965 Aladar von Wesendonk: 888 Cocktails. Seite 46. Dubonnet Citron.

2/3 Dubonnet
1/6 Limejuice
1/6 Zitronensaft
1 Prise Zucker
im shaker mit Eis schütteln, in
einen tumbler gießen und mit
Sodawasser aufspritzen

1965 Harry Schraemli: Manuel du bar. Seite 394. Dubonnet-Citron.

Dans un grand tumbler mettre plusieurs petits dés de glace, 1/2 citron-
nelle, 1 verre de Dubonnet, ajouter 1/2 tranche d’orange, bien remuer,
finir de remplir avec de leau de Seltz.

1965 Robert London & Anne London: Cocktails and Snacks. Seite 86. Dubonnet Highball.

3 ounces Dubonnet 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Stir with cracked ice in highball glass. Fill with soda.

1966 Harry Schraemli: Le roi du bar. Seite 82. Dubonnet-Citron.

Tumbler, plusieurs petits dés de glace, 1/2
citronnelle. 1 verre de Dubonnet, 1/2
tranche d’orange. Remuer et remplir avec
de l’eau de Seltz.

1972 Leo Cotton: Old Mr. Boston. Seite 32. Dubonnet Highball.

1 Cube of Ice
2 oz. Dubonnet
Fill 8 oz. highball glass with ginger
ale or carbonated water. Add twist
of lemon peel, if desired, and stir.

1973 Anonymus: 500 Ways to Mix Drinks. Seite 43. Upstairs.

2 jiggers Dubonnet
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Soda
Pour into an 8 oz. old-fash-
ioned glass filled with ice
cubes. Fill with soda.

1973 Anonymus: 500 Ways to Mix Drinks. Seite 48. Dubonnet Highball.

2 1/2 oz. Dubonnet
1, 2 or 3 cubes of ice
Fill glass with desired amount
of charged water. Add a twist
of lemon peel.

1976 Harry Craddock: The Savoy Cocktail Book. Seite 165. Upstairs Cocktail.

The Juice of 1/4 Lemon.
1 Glass Dubonnet.
Use medium size glass and fill
with soda water.

1977 Stan Jones: Jones’ Complete Barguide. Seite 271. Dubonnet.

Hiball Glass Build
2 oz Dubonnet
1 oz lemon syrup
Fill with ice, soda

1977 Stan Jones: Jones’ Complete Barguide. Seite 271. Dubonnet Hiball.

Hiball Glass Build
2 oz Dubonnet
1/4 oz lemon juice
Fill with ice, soda
(Substitute: ginger ale for soda)

explicit capitulum
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About

Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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