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How the Godfather Cocktail Got Its Name

The Godfather

The Godfather is not the book or movie we are talking about, but a classic cocktail you can't refuse. A favorite cocktail since the 1970s, the godfather cocktail is a simple blended drink of amaretto and scotch whisky. It only needs these two ingredients and is made directly in the glass. This makes it a straightforward cocktail to mix up anytime you want a smooth-to-sip drink. The Godfather cocktail features a fantastic flavor with an almond sweetness of the amaretto blending well with the full notes of bourbon whisky. But how did the drink come about? Here is a guide on the Godfather cocktail history, recipe, variations, and even how it got its name.

History of the Godfather Cocktail

The origin of the Godfather cocktail is unknown. But what is undoubtedly known is that it is one of the three 'gangster cocktails' or 'Criminal cocktails' together with the Godmother and French Connection. According to Acouplecooks, this cocktail became famous in the 1970s around the time the Oscar-winning film, Godfather premiered. Disaronno, an Italian amaretto liqueur brand, claims that The Godfather was the favorite for the movie actor Marlon Brando, who played the infamous Vito Corleone. Nobody is sure when the drink was first made, who created it, or if actor Marlo Brando ever took the cocktail. But at least the fact that it uses amaretto liqueur gives the cocktail a significant Italian connection that the name makes sense. Another origin theory is that the Godfather cocktail was actually made in the 1950s by Donato Antone, a bartender. According to The Cocktail Society, Donato claims to have invented many other cocktails, including the White Russian, Harvey Wallbanger, Kamikaze, and The Rusty Nail. However, researchers have not found proof that he made these cocktails, so the theory is highly discounted. The Godfather is often prepared with equal portions of scotch and amaretto, resulting in a delicious, albeit sweeter, cocktail. However, the classic Godfather cocktail recipe originates from Michael Dietsch's book, 'Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic & Original Cocktails.' Dietsch uses amaretto as an accent instead of an equal ingredient, reducing the sweetness significantly. This results in a drier, bibulous drink that keeps the emphasis on the whiskey.

So, How Did the Godfather Cocktail Get Its Name?

The Godfather cocktail allegedly got its name because it was a favorite of Marlon Brando, who was famous for his role as Don Corleone in The Godfather movies. More so, the use of amaretto liqueur offers the drink an Italian connection that the name makes sense. With its slow-sipping feel, you can easily imagine Don Corleone with the cocktail on his desk as he considers the favors on his daughter's wedding day.

The Classic Godfather Cocktail Recipe

Although its history might be complex, making this sweet and smoky is quite simple. The duo ingredients you require are amaretto liqueur and good scotch whisky chilled over ice.


  • 2 ounces scotch or bourbon
  • 1/2-ounce amaretto


  • Put about two-thirds of the ice in a glass. Add amaretto and whiskey.
  • Stir for about twenty seconds until it becomes well chilled.
  • Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and serve.
  • You can also add a brandied cherry to garnish.

This Godfather cocktail recipe uses a 3:1 scotch whisky to amaretto ration. This generates a sweet drink but not so cloying as the 1:1 ratio suggested by a famous amaretto producer. If you prefer less sweetness, use two ounces of scotch whisky with a half-ounce of amaretto. Using two ingredients, you can easily experiment and find the version you feel is best for yourself. The Godfather is the perfect drink for large ice cubes or balls as they will melt more slowly, preventing an overly diluted drink.

How Does the Godfather Cocktail Taste Like?

With its ingredients, it should be no surprise that it's a strong drink, best ideal for slow sipping. According to Make me a Cocktail, while the Godfather cocktail is easy to make, it's essential to use a high-quality scotch as the scotch flavor will come through to the end product. The nutty, sweet almond taste of the amaretto perfectly blends with the oaky, smoky flavor of the scotch. The crucial aspect of the drink is using just the right amount of amaretto to play nice with the scotch without overpowering it because it's a cocktail for scotch lovers. Featuring the hint of almond sweetness and providing the signature smokiness and depth of Johnnie Walker, this cocktail is an iconic blend with a fruity garnish.

Classic Godfather Cocktail Variations

There are various variations to this classic cocktail. For instance, you can swap out the scotch with Irish whiskey or bourbon. A Godmother cocktail substitutes scotch over vodka. Compared to the Godfather cocktail, the Godmother cocktail with vodka is lighter and more unbalanced towards the flavor and scent of the amaretto. You can also add cream to the Godfather, and you have the Godson cocktail. In the same case, when you add cream to the Godmother cocktail to get a Goddaughter. Movies and cocktail enthusiasts who love the Godfather are also likely to enjoy The French Connection cocktail, named after the Gene Hackman film. The cocktail contains Amaretto and Cognac and is very delicious.

Godfather Cocktail Pairings

When considering the pairings, the Godfather is a great cocktail to drink after dinner. It has a remarkable digestive effect thanks to the amaretto. It is also s excellent meditation drink thanks to its high-alcohol content. However, it also blends well with several desserts with a strong flavor, particularly those with a dark chocolate flavor.

How Strong Is the Godfather Cocktail?

The Godfather is a highly potent cocktail, entirely made of alcohol. However, it's softer than the whisky you use to prepare it. For example, if prepared with an 80-proof scotch whisky and a 50-proof amaretto, its alcohol content will fall to about 58-proof (29% ABV). So, sip this extremely high alcohol content slowly and drink responsibly.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, you now understand how the godfather cocktail got its name and how to make the drink. This is an easy-to-make cocktail featuring just two ingredients and chilled over ice. The godfather cocktail is a perfect nightcap and happy hour drink and goes perfectly with desserts such as cheesecake, tiramisu, or baklava. This is a cocktail offer you can't refuse.

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Lily Wordsmith

Written by Lily Wordsmith

Lily Wordsmith is a freelance writer who has had a love affair with the written word for decades. You can find her writing blog posts and articles while sitting under a tree at the local park watching her kids play, or typing away on her tablet in line at the DMV. In addition to her freelance career, she is pursuing ebook writing with an ever-growing repertoire of witty ebooks to her name. Her diversity is boundless, and she has written about everything from astrobotany to zookeepers. Her real passions are her family, baking desserts and all things luxe.

Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith

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