The Queen’s Drink

Recently a family friend had an important birthday. This friend (let’s call her Wendy) likes a tipple, in particular Champagne (and I mean the real stuff). I of course share her love for both a tipple and champers, so we are pretty good friends. Over the years Wendy has come up with one or two pretty good combos that go with champers (or if we’re having a tight month, sparkling white or Crèmant). Her latest has been termed The Queen’s Drink.

The Queen's Drink

The story goes that the Queen has one of these everyday before lunch. Personally, even as a seasoned drinker, I don’t know how she does it. But knowing she is capable of consuming one of these daily with her busy schedule has increased my respect for her considerably. If you try one, you’ll know why!


  • Dubonnet (a French wine-based sweet aperitif that is rumoured to be the Queen’s favourite tipple)
  • Orange bitters
  • Gin
  • Sparkling white wine


  • Wine glass
  • Cocktail measure


  1. Add 25mL gin and 50mL Dubonnet to glass.
  2. Add 3 drops of Orange Bitters.
  3. Top up with sparkling white.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Toast the Queen.


The interesting fact is, when researching this, I discovered that this isn’t the true Queen’s Drink. Wendy’s recipe could be considered a watered down version. The drink that originally the Queen Mother and now the Queen fondly consumes is 70% Dubonnet and 30% gin with a slice of lemon under ice. Try that one before lunch and see how you go!

Scientific stuff

Dubonnet is said to be first sold in 1846. It is claimed it was in response to a French Government held competition that aimed to encourage the French Foreign Legionnaires to consume quinine. Quinine is bitter in flavour and is also found in tonic. It is known as the first effective treatment to malaria. Quinine was used to combat malaria up until the 1940s.

Occuring naturally in the bark of the cinchona tree, quinine is known for use as a muscle relaxant as well as a treatment for various other health complaints.

Interestingly, quinine is sensitive to ultraviolet light (UV light). Under UV light or even in daylight, it can been seen to fluoresce usually as a blue colour.