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The Leap Year Cocktail. (Photo credit: Amy Zavatto)

If you weren’t aware that there’s a cocktail especially for Leap Year, well, who could blame you? The occasion only rolls around once every bunch of years. That’s a long time to wait for a drink.

If you thought it was every four years, you’d be forgiven. It’s what they taught us, right? But that might have been just to simplify things and not make our brains hurt with too much math.

Here goes an explanation: It takes the earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds to entirely orbit the sun. So, you see, there’s a little tiny bit of residual time left there. It’s not a neat and tidy calendar year. Add up that smattering of extra hours and such, and about every four years (although not always!) you have to add an extra day on to stick to our regular calendar and not freak everyone out.

Back in 1928 — another Leap Year! — famed bartender Harry Craddock of the Savoy Hotel in London decided to mark the occasion with (what else?) a cocktail that eventually appeared in his 1930 tome, The Savoy Cocktail Book. The text that appears next to the cocktail proclaims the following:

“… It is said to to have been responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail that has ever been mixed”

Harry Craddock

Well, that is indeed quite a proclamation, and while we honestly can’t say much about the truthfulness of it, we can tell you this: the Leap Year is a good drink. And an easy one at that.

His original recipe calls for just a 1/6 hit of both Grand Marnier and sweet vermouth (we like the slightly bitter finishing edge of Punt e Mes), which we’ve adjusted to something a little less tedious (sorry, Craddock). As far as gin goes, your standard London Dry is always a good place to land — but we enjoyed working with Brooklyn’s Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin for this (available at Wainscott Main Wine & Spirits, as is the Punt e Mes).

It’s one worth visiting more than every fourth calendar year.

Leap Year Cocktail

Prep Time 1 minute
Serves 1 cocktail


  • 1 1/2 oz London Dry gin
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 bar spoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lemon peel, for garnish


  • In a shaker with ice, combine all liquid ingredients.
  • Shake well until very cold, about 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Strain into a Nick & Nora glass or small goblet. Garnish with the lemon peel. Cheers!