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Agatha Christie Cocktails - 5 Best Cocktails To Treat You and Your Friends With (Poirot Novels)

How to throw an authentic Agatha Christie inspired Cocktail Party?

What are the perfect Agatha Christie cocktails? If you’re looking to throw an Agatha Christie inspired cocktail party – whether it be for a murder mystery evening, 1930s fancy dress theme or simply because, like me, you love all things Agatha – here’s your guide to some of the best drinks not inspired by, but actually featured in her books.

Now, I’m sure that, when it comes to Agatha Christie and alcohol, most people’s thoughts automatically run to a vision of Hercule Poirot sipping on a Crème de Menth or a Syrop De Casis, or perhaps Miss Marple and her damson gin or a nice sweet sherry. 

But if you want to offer a bit more of a range, there are some cocktails detailed in the novels for you to turn to instead. I do not propose to go into the full history of these cocktails – there are far greater authorities out there who have amazing sites and books detailing the history of any cocktail you can imagine – but I have pulled out some of the best references to cocktails in the Agatha Christie novels along with a simple recipe and some serving suggestions for the perfect 1930’s look.

Cocktails are mentioned in most of Agatha Christie’s books, Ronnie Garfield mixes a mean cocktail for Mrs Willet’s guests in ‘The Sittaford Mystery’, Lucy Eyelesbarrow prepares a jug of cocktail for the Crackenthorpe family in ‘4.50 from Paddington’ but the details of exactly what these cocktails are is not given. It is only in some novels where the actual cocktail name or ingredients is detailed by Agatha Christie and these are the ones I have pulled out for you to try. 

Agatha Christie Cocktails: From ‘Black Coffee’ 

One of the best references to cocktails by AC is in ‘Black Coffee’ in chapter two in which Barbara Amery mentions three– The Manhattan, The Whisky Sour, and Satan’s whisker. These for me are the genuine Agatha Christie Cocktails to mix for a party as they are truly found in her works, indicating that perhaps the great lady enjoyed the odd glass of them herself…

I think she needs a good stiff drink’, suggested Barbara, sitting on the coffee table….’This is an awful house, Aunt Caroline. It’s years behind the times. You never see the ghost of a cocktail in it. Nothing but sherry or whisky before dinner, and brandy afterwards. Richard can’t make a decent Manhattan, and just try asking Edward Reynor for a Whicky Sour. Now what would really pull Lucia around in no time would be a Satan’s Whisker.”

Barbara Amory, Black Coffee

1. The Manhattan

Mix two parts whisky with one part sweet vermouth and add a dash of bitters, garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Pour into a 1930’s Manhattan glass for the perfect touch go for any art deco inspired ones like these.

2. The Whisky Sour

Traditionally the Whisky Sour is just whisky mixed with lemon and sugar or syrup., it appears the addition of an egg white or even a float of red wine could have been popular but I’ll leave that decision up to you. Personally, I would pour this into a stemmed glass to stop it warming in your hand (what was the point of the ice otherwise?) As specified, a sour glass has a rounded cup with a stem is perfect for the job.

Finally, we discover…

3. Satan’s Whisker

“It’s quite simple to make, if you have the ingredients’, replied Barbara. “It’s merely equal parts of brandy and crème de menthe, but you mustn’t forget a shake of red pepper. That’s most important, It’s absolutely super, and guaranteed to put some pep into you.”

Barbara Amory, Black Coffee

If you’ve not listened to it, the audiobook unabridged version of this read by John Moffatt is brilliant. This is one of my favourite scenes in it, once you’ve listened to it you won’t be able to say ‘absolutely super’ without thinking of Moffatt playing Barbara Amory. You can check out the prices of the audiobook if you want to listen to it for yourself here

Now, Barbara is describing what’s known as a ‘curdled’ version of the cocktail (hey, I said these would be legit but I didn’t say they’d necessarily taste good!) and AC may not have been that familiar with the cocktail itself as the ingredients are traditionally slightly different. 

For a straight Satan’s Whiskers mix 2/3 gin, 2/3 dry vermouth, 2/3 sweet vermouth, 1/3 grand mariner with 2/3 orange juice and add a dash of bitters. 

For the curdled version substitute orange curaçao for the grand mariner (not crème de menthe). But hey, perhaps this is how AC had it herself….

Now, turning to another novel prolific with cocktails, lets look at…

Agatha Christie Cocktails: Three Act Tragedy 

4. The Martini

If you prefer a classic Martini look no further than Sir Charles Cartwright’s drinking party; you’re talking about a nice simple gin and vermouth. Just make sure to serve in “a heavy cut glass on a tray” oh and please be careful not to mix up your glasses, you know, just in case one has a dash of nicotine added…

5. The Pink Gin

Moving on in the novel, at the ’72 Club’ Egg has a Martini again (obviously not put out by the incident of the last time she had one) and her companion at the time Captain Dacres has a few Pink Gins.

Now obviously gin is having a ‘moment’ and there are all sorts of flavoured and coloured gins out there but in the 1930s, Captain Dacres would have been having a Plymouth Gin with bitters added (turning it a pinky colour) with a lemon rind as a garnish (and a dash of iced water). This is a lovely bit of character detail by Christie – Captain Dacres is obviously a Navy man and this drink was purported to have been invented by the sailors in the Royal Navy who drank Angostura bitters for sea sickness , and added the sweet Plymouth gin to the bitters to make them taste better. 

For today’s tastes I’d recommend adding tonic and serving in a high ball glass and to really show off to your guests you could ask them if they want it ‘in or out’ meaning do they want the bitters swirled around the glass first and then poured out or left in – ‘details mon ami, details!

So – there you are, a few simple cocktails taken directly from the Agatha Christie Poirot novels for you to try at home and impress your other Christie fans with. Perfect for any murder mystery party cocktail trolley – Enjoy!

Quick hints and tips to give that extra 1930s touch:

  • Using cut glasses always denotes a 1930s feel – even if they’re not real vintage!
  • Drinks trolleys were (and still are) a perfect addition – rounded ones always remind me of Hercule Poirot’s shelving in his apartment in Whitehaven mansions in some of the earlier televison adaptions…sleak straight lines and a bronze or gold finish with mirror shelves is perfect.
  • Save yourself time by mixing in batches and using a pitcher a la Lucy Eyelesbarrow in 4.50 From Paddington. If its good enough for Lucy….
  • Don’t just shout ‘cheers‘ – give it some glamour with a ‘Here’s how’ or for the murder mystery party it’s got to be… ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ (to quote Sir Charles Cartwright in ‘Three Act Tragedy’)

Get Inspired to mix your own version of these Agatha Christie Cockatils - click the images below to check prices...

Find Out More - Read The Stories

Three Act Tragedy

Also known as Murder in Three Acts this is a popular Poirot novel with plenty of twists and turns. The characterisation throughout is fantastic and it'll definitively keep you guessing.

Not Familiar with Black Coffee?

Read the play adapted to novel format by Charles Osbourne here…