Liquor In The Winter: A Cardamom-Orange Martini

It is fifteen goddamn degrees outside. Fifteen degrees Fahrenheit! Fifteen. Degrees. Going out with friends or my wife or just, like, leaving my apartment at all? Out of the question! Nope nope nope! This month, folks came to me instead of freezing our butts off in a cold bar somewhere and I made them Cardamom-Orange Martinis. Which seems like a weird choice, but I promise it’s not.

I will tell you, though, that I’ve used two pretty special ingredients for this one, ones that you might not already have lying around your kitchen. Here they are—

Virginia Woolf candle not required, I am who I am.

The first is gin from Standard Wormwood Distillery in Brooklyn. My wife and I ran into them in December at the Bust Craftacular and as soon as we sampled their wares, I had the idea for this cocktail. This particular distillery uses wormwood in most (all?) of their products — and before you think this drink is gonna make you see some green fairies, I’d like to give you one of my most popular fun facts! Though maligned and banned in this country for a good long while, wormwood (one of the herbal tastes in absinthe) is not and has never been hallucinogenic. The wine industry just did not like how popular absinthe was getting, so they spread some rumors mean-girls-style. If you drink and you enjoy alcohol, alcohol with wormwood listed as an ingredient isn’t going to behave much differently than what you’re used to. Anyhow, what I’m saying is you COULD make this drink with your favorite gin. But I made this cocktail SPECIFICALLY for this gin. So if you have the means, I highly recommend giving this one a try. It’s gentle, herbaceous and tastes like someone’s witch-aesthetic Tumblr distilled (I mean that extremely positively).

The second is Scrappy’s Bitters in Cardamom. Our own Dr. Lizz got these for us (thank you Lizz!). They don’t come out super frequently, but when I have a drink that calls for them (like this one!) there’s no substitute. They taste like warmth, even when you’re using them in a drink with ice. Perfect for January.

So now for the complete list. You will need:

  • 3 oz gin (Standard Wormwood or your fave)
  • 1 oz dry Vermouth

  • 1 dash orange bitters

  • 1 dash cardamom bitters

  • orange peel for garnish

  • rosemary sprig for garnish

  • a big ole ice cube because heck, it’s 15 degrees outside, why not put a giant ice cube in your drink TO MATCH YOUR SOUL

  • depending on your glassware, you’ll need a mixing glass. For instance, if you’re using a martini glass like I have pictured, you’ll need something else to mix in. But if you’re building in a tumbler or a red wine glass (both acceptable and both of which I’ve done! Just be fancy so you feel nice!), there’s no pesky glass shape to hinder you; feel free to build that sucker right in the glass.

See, we dried a bunch of citruses to make garlands and it was entirely too much citrus, like we just didn’t need that much garland, but now I just have a really pretty butcher block? Oh, no, drying citrus has nothing to do with this recipe but gosh darn, doesn’t that make a pretty photo.

In your mixing glass, dump the gin and the Vermouth over ice. Add a dash of the orange bitters and the cardamom bitters. Stir quickly, putting your bar spoon between the ice and the glass and trying not to knock it around too much. You may notice that I have no photos of the middle bit this time — turns out when your drink is clear and your light is low, mixing this looks like nothing on camera.

See what I mean? Clear drinks are super hard to photograph. Tastes real good, though!

Strain into a martini glass with a big ole ice cube in it. Peel a bit of the orange peel and spritz into the drink with it. Rub it against the edges of the glass and throw it right on in there. Grab a sprig of rosemary and chuck that on in there too. LOOK HOW MUCH YOU DON’T HATE WINTER! IT’S AESTHETIC! YOU CAN PRETEND THE TREES AREN’T STICKS AND YOUR EYES AREN’T FREEZING TO THE INSIDE OF YOUR EYELIDS!

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. I didn’t realize there is gin with wormwood in it. This really has my interested piqued as I enjoy gin and wormwood. Is this particular brand a local to you, or can I find it out here in SoCal? If not any suggestions on a gin with wormwood in it?

    Side note: One could potentially hallucinate from wormwood; but, the amount of wormwood(via booze) needed to hallucinate, one would more than likely succumb to alcohol poisoning first. Also, smoking/ingesting straight wormwood is a bad idea as again the amount needed to hallucinate would is pretty much the same amount wormwood becomes a poison. In my late 20’s I spent some time on herbal, & cannabis related forums reading info about wormwood, teas, and other plants to complement cannabis and/or alcohol.

  2. Firstly yes to this drink and yes this is aesthetic what a gorgeous photo!

    I am very intrigued about the wormwood lies! Please provide some links, because I legit wrote an entire paper about absinthe as a muse for art and a large majority of it centered on the hallucinogens in wormwood. I need to tell my English teacher from HS to change my grade.

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