The Cooper Union

So I realize now as I’m typing this that I misspelled the cocktail name on our latest Instagram post as the “Copper Union” but it’s too late and no one mentioned it, so I won’t be sweating it.

Despite not posting as often, we’ve been going through the Death & Co bible of a cocktail book at a fair clip. This one immediately jumped out because it involved Irish whisky and was described as a sazerac variant. Being cocktail enthusiasts that enjoy the higher ABV side of cocktails, we were immediately intrigued. The cocktail was originally created by Phil Ward at Death & Co in 2008 and I presume it was named after the NYC arts school (?) There was also a bar named Cooper’s Union in New Jersey, but I doubt those are related (the bar was opened after the cocktail name… and they’re not that close). Usually there’s a good story behind the name, but this time I can’t find it.

In a traditional sazerac, absinthe is used to rinse the glass and some bitters, rye (or other brown spirit such as split-based cognac/rye), and sugar is added. The Cooper Union uses Laphroaig (super peated scotch) as a glass rinse and then adds bitters, St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur that serves as the sugar), and Irish whisky. Our Irish whisky selection is pitiful. In fact, there’s only a single bottle of extremely expensive Gelstone’s 26-year-old purchased from my trip to the UK and that’s it. So we went with our bottle of Ben Nevis 21 as the base.

The end result is one of my favorite cocktails in recent memory. Granted, it helps that the base whisky is delicious. The cocktail is great for when your palate is not up to just drinking whisky straight – and the rinse of Laphroaig adds another dimension.

Our scotch variant of the Cooper Union


  • Rinse of Laphroaig 10
  • 2 ounces Redbreast 12 Irish whiskey (we used Ben Nevis 21 instead)
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 0.5 ounce of St Germain


Rocks Glass


  • Rinse the glass with the Laphroaig 10
  • Drink the remnants of the rinse (don’t dump and waste that beautiful froggie goodness!)
  • Stir the whisky, bitters, and St. Germain in a mixing glass and strain
  • Serve without ice

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