Cheater Ingredient – Cinnamon Syrup


This series on cheater ingredients started off with grapefruit. Cinnamon is another tool in our veritable MacGyver toolkit for fixing cocktails and one that, unsurprisingly, matches very well with grapefruit. Leafing through one of my treasured reference cookbooks which might as well just be a nerdy spreadsheet of ingredient pairings, I looked for cinnamon. Cilantro was close by and got me a little turned on… cilantro pairs well with pork belly, sriracha, kewpie mayo, cumin, orange, lime, etc. Ok, but what about cinnamon? Hell, it pretty much goes with everything. Dark chocolate, duck, allspice, apple, gin, brandy, rum, any citrus, tripe, fluke, bacon – I’ll stop while I’m ahead.

There are many kinds of cinnamon, and their lusty progeny has been described much better than I could ever do. Canela is your friend, and your local Mexican grocer should carry it. And if you live in the middle of no where like I do, Penzey’s has loads of it. Though they call it Ceylon; nomenclature nerds. Or just completely ignore all our cocktail pomplication and use Cassia, the stuff that you’ll find in any grocery store.

Syrup, which is more often than not the delivery method for cinnamon is simple to make, but its use is often confined to the realm of tiki. But as an ingredient its sights are set so much wider. You think St. Germain is bartenders’ ketchup? Give this sultry rabbit’s foot a try.

What goes with Cinnamon Syrup?

  • Ting
  • lime
  • orange
  • pimento dram
  • Fernet
  • Strega
  • Chartreuse
  • Carpano Antica
  • absinthe


  • 1 1/2oz rye whiskey (Bulleit’s new rye works nicely, or Rittenhouse Bonded)
  • 1t maraschino liqueur
  • 8 drops Herbsaint
  • 1/2oz lemon
  • 1/4oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2oz cinnamon syrup
  • 1 dash Bitter Truth aromatic bitters
  • grapefruit twist and brandied cherry, for garnish

Shake with ice chipped from the beard of a Robold and donate to a stubby glass. Garnish, offer to a guest, and say “Put your hand in the box” in your best Bene Gesserit voice.

Source: Rick, Kaiser Penguin

KP Question

  • What’s your favorite cinnamon syrup drink?

20 Responses to “Cheater Ingredient – Cinnamon Syrup”

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20 Comments to “ Cheater Ingredient – Cinnamon Syrup”
  1. DagrebNo Gravatar says:

    Currently my favourite is Tiger Blood #4.

    Shameless self promotion at it’s finest.


  2. BRussellNo Gravatar says:

    Not my favorite drink with cinnamon syrup, but the drink in which I most enjoyed cinnamon syrup:

    The Aegean Fizz. It was the winner of an Imbibe contest for inventing Metaxa cocktails.

  3. FredericNo Gravatar says:

    Ben Sandrof’s Cuban Anole — a Mai Tai variation that uses cinnamon syrup instead of orange liqueur. Manhattan’s Painkiller bar liked it too and added the drink to their menu.

  4. I’m quite partial to Gantt’s Caipirissima, or any other cinnamon+grapefruit+agricole concoction so concocted.

  5. JordanNo Gravatar says:

    Probably the Donga Punch. While the original rhum agricole version is divine (especially with Clélement VSOP: it’s adaptable to a number of other base liquors, including, like your recipe, rye whiskey:

    (More shameless blog flogging):

    • ArrianoNo Gravatar says:

      A second on the Donga Punch. I think I’d skipped over it in the past because the recipe is so simple. But made it the other night and was impressed. Very nice drink.

  6. drinksnobNo Gravatar says:

    I find that a cinnamon tincture is a more convenient delivery method for cinnamon flavor. It lets me mix up ad hoc cinnamon syrup, of course, but is also useful for drinks where I’d like cinnamon without sweetness. Finally, cinnamon tincture doesn’t take up room in my already overloaded fridge, and has shelf-life of – I would expect – at least a year.

  7. AlexNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Rick!

    Nice post for cinnamon lovers.

    Recently I’ve tasted Boukman Daiquiri

    But my passion is my own Apfel Strudel Martini:

    50 ?? apple infused vodka
    1 tsp cinnamon syrup
    1 dash Riga Black balsam

  8. randyNo Gravatar says:

    Let’s not forget that cinnamon syrup goes GREAT with that other cheater ingredient, grapefruit (small wonder eh?) decoded by Jeff Berry as “Don’s Mix” in the original Zombie. I know you said any citrus, but when I paired cinnamon syrup with grapefruit it was a revelation. So, my vote is for the Zombie which has at least TWO cheater ingredients. For those who missed the NYT article that chronicles the “Beachbum’s” story back in 2007, here’s a link:

  9. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    Hm… Jet Pilot or Nui Nui? Maybe I’ll go with Jet Pilot. (If you ask me again tomorrow….)

  10. Sunny&RummyNo Gravatar says:

    Another vote for Donga Punch. That was the first revelatory drink from Sippin’ Safari for me, and I go back and forth between Martinique and Demerara rums with it and like both equally. I also only make it during the short seasonal window when I have fresh white grapefruit. Gawd the packaged commercial stuff is wretched.

  11. JordanNo Gravatar says:

    The Jet Pilot is another fantastic one. While the Zombie will always be a classic, the Jet Pilot is just a teensy bit easier to put together if you don’t have premade Don’s Mix.

  12. KeithPNo Gravatar says:

    Fav cinnamon syrup drink? I love a tequila and mezcal old fashion that subs in the cinnamon syrup in place of agave. It’s great against veg background of the tequila and smoke of the mezcal. The stuff is actually quite good on vanilla ice cream with a little shaved chocolate … oh, that was not quite a drink selection but pairs nicely with the drink.

  13. DagrebNo Gravatar says:

    To actually arrive at Keith’s blog rather than the open DNS guide try this:
    Got your back jack!

  14. “Dark chocolate, duck, allspice, apple, gin, brandy, rum, any citrus, tripe, fluke, bacon – I’ll stop while I’m ahead.”

    Wow, would love to try some of these, I will definitely tell my friend about this ingredient.

  15. Nic VegaNo Gravatar says:

    Haven’t used cinnamon syrup yet, but I love cinnamon and will have to make all of these.

    I do have a blueberry cinnamon syrup that gets a lot of use – favorite application so far is the simple-but-delicious blueberry bourbon sour.

  16. cutiepinkNo Gravatar says:

    WOW i love this for cinnamon lovers…Finally i have found this site and i see i like this cinnamon without sweetness..Thank you:D

  17. CainNo Gravatar says:

    Would you mind sharing which cookbook “might as well just be a nerdy spreadsheet of ingredient pairings?” That sounds like a glorious thing to have around. Thanks for all your good work!

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Kaiser Penguin is a cocktail blog featuring original recipes, homemade ingredients, classic cocktails, and tiki drinks.

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It is a well-known fact that penguins are members of high society and enjoy fine cocktails. Our very own kaiser penguin would like me to mention that he also enjoys various treats from the sea.