Loading your recommendations…

Durham Distillery Durham 150 Cocktails

Estimated Read Time:
3 minutes

Nearly a dozen Durham partners shook things up when they agreed to create Durham 150-inspired cocktails to enjoy all year long.

Cheers to the happiest of Durham birthdays, courtesy of Durham Distillery and Conniption Gin.

Created by Shannon Healy

"A Fresh Start" celebrates the aspirations of both modern gin makers and the city of Durham. This drink pulls from global influences to make something world-class and truly our own.


2 ounces Conniption American Dry Gin
1/3 ounce housemade yuzu cordial
1/3 ounce house dry vermouth blend
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice, stir and strain into a cold coupe glass.

Arcana: The Runaway Rabbit

Created by Lindsey Andrews & Heather Davis

This drink pays tribute to Runaway, a Durham apparel and lifestyle brand company that was inspired by those who pursue their passions in search of something greater than themselves. Though Runaway closed its doors in January, its combination of apparel, art exhibitions, concerts, documentary filmmaking and more pioneered a new wave of creative hustle in North Carolina and beyond.


1.5 ounces Conniption American Dry Gin
0.5 ounce Ancho Reyes
0.5 ounce carrot juice
0.25 ounce housemade ginger syrup
0.25 ounce lemon juice
Combine all ingredients. Shake and serve up in a coupe glass.

COPA: Bull City Sling

Created by COPA bar team

In "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks," D.A. Embury wrote, “Of all the recipes published for [the Singapore Sling,] I have never seen any two that were alike.” The Bull City Sling, our modern spin on this classic cocktail, celebrates the history, color and creativity that make our city great. Highlighting spirits from two of our city’s contemporary distilleries, this cocktail adds a nod to history with a light wash of Brightleaf Tobacco Smoke for a drink that is bright, refreshing and a little funky — not unlike the place we call home!


1.5 ounces Conniption Navy Strength Gin
1.5 ounces Luxardo cherry juice or cherry liqueur
0.5 ounce Brothers Vigalys Beebop Liqueur
1.5 ounces pineapple juice
0.5 ounce lime juice
0.25 ounce house grenadine
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
Smoke from Parker Family Farms Brightleaf Tobacco

Light a small piece of Brightleaf Tobacco and place highball glass over the tobacco to capture smoke. Add all remaining ingredients to shaker with ice. Shake slowly for eight seconds to chill. Fill glass with ice and strain the cocktail over the ice. Garnish with pineapple wedge and cherry.

Counting House: Hit Grass (Win Salad)

Created by Travis Daye

This cocktail is called Hit Grass (Win Salad) — a name taken from the famous Bull sign at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The drink is light & refreshing and evokes lazy summer days spent outside, roaming around downtown Durham.


1.5 ounces Durham Distillery American Dry Gin
1 ounce cucumber juice
0.5 ounce yellow chartreuse
0.5 ounce Dolin dry vermouth
0.5 ounce Sauvignon Blanc
4-5 Mint Leaves
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper Cucumber-Chartreuse foam*

Combine all ingredients (except foam). Shake and strain into rocks glass. Fill with crushed ice. Top with foam and garnish with mint leaf.
*There are several ways to make foam, but the simplest is to shake up 0.5 ounce yellow chartreuse and 2 ounce cucumber juice with an egg white until the mixture is nice and frothy.

Jack Tar & The Colonel's Daughter: Honeysuckle Vesper

Created by Chris Riddle & Michael Killbridge)

The Jack Tar Motel was the peak of design in the 1960s. For inspiration for this cocktail, we looked to that chapter of Durham’s history (and a little bit of James Bond). The Durham American Dry Gin has a crisp honeysuckle botanical that we bring out with a clean vodka pairing and the slight natural bitterness that Cap Corse Vermouth provides to make this classic our own.


1.5 ounces Conniption American Dry Gin
1.5 ounces Kettle One Vodka
1 ounce Cap Corse vermouth
Combine with ice and shake (do not stir!). Serve in a coup or martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Kingfisher: Bee Durham

Created by Sean Umstead

The Durham 150 cocktail is symbolic of the ecosystem of Durham, as told with the help of the humble honey bee. There are many unique people and places of Durham that come together to make it vibrant and alive; the life and work of the bee exemplifies this community creation of this fabulous place. The flowers the bee pollinates, the pollen it carries, and the honey and wax it produces are all represented in the drink; the beeswax comes straight from Fruchtenicht Honey at the Farmer’s Market. The gin is made down the street at Durham Distillery, and the chamomile comes from Jeddah’s Tea. Together they create a delicious, community-created taste of Durham.


¾ ounce chamomile-creamed honey*
1.5 ounces beeswax-washed Conniption Navy Strength Gin**
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients. Garnish with lemon wedge.

*For the chamomile creamed honey, steep 4 grams of Jeddah’s chamomile tea in 16 ounces of just-boiled water. Steep for 4 minutes. Combine tea with 16 ounces of creamed honey. Stir until incorporated.
**To make the beeswax gin, melt 1 ounce of beeswax into a mason jar over a water bath. When liquefied, remove from bath and roll jar until wax coats the entirety and has hardened. Add a 750-millimeter bottle of Conniption Navy Strength gin to the jar. Let rest for 72 hours.

Littler: Parrish Street Fizz

Created by Michael Killbridge

Littler sits in the heart of Parrish Street — one of the most important places in Durham’s history. We’re celebrating that history with our take on a cocktail that people have been drinking in bars since Durham was founded. Cheers!


2 ounces Durham Distillery Cucumber Vodka
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
.75 ounce kiwi syrup
0.5 ounce Del Professor Dry Vermouth
.25 ounce simple syrup

Combine all ingredients and pour over ice in a collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with a dehydrated kiwi slice.

Mateo Bar de Tapas: The Heirloom

Created by Cassady Orsini

This cocktail was inspired by the agricultural scene in Durham that has thrived since the 1800s. It features tomato water for a light and refreshing spring/summer drink.


2 ounces Durham distillery cold distilled cucumber vodka
1 ounce tomato water
0.5 ounces Cruz del Mar Fino
0.5 ounces lime juice
0.5 ounces simple syrup

Shake, pour over new ice, and garnish with mint.

Mothers & Sons: Between Two Ferns

Created by Louise Calhoun

This is our fun play on a Hanky Panky. I love this drink because it celebrates Durham by using a local product (Durham Distillery Conniption Gin), and two fernets, which allow for plenty of conversation. It’s a bouncy sipper that mellows as the ice melts. It’s refreshing enough to be a summer beverage, but punchy enough to hang out in the colder months.


1.5 ounces Conniption American Dry Gin
1.5 ounces Carpano Antica
.25 ounce Luxardo Fernet
.25 ounce Fernet Branca

Combine all ingredients. Stir briefly over cracked ice, then pour over a 3 ounce ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Pizzeria Toro: Calabrian Chili Collins

Created by Chris Riddle and Michael Killbridge

For this cocktail, we looked to what people were drinking when Durham was born for inspiration. The Tom Collins was an great fit for Pizzeria Toro given its fresh ingredients and bright acid. With the added heat of the chili infused syrup, the Calabrian Chili Collins becomes a current and fitting pairing for Pizzeria Toro’s seasonal antipasto menu.


2 ounces Conniption Navy Strength Gin
.75 ounce fresh lemon juice
.75 ounce Calabrian chili syrup

Combine all ingredients with ice and shake. Pour in a collins glass and top with soda.
Garnish with a dried Calabrian chili and lemon wheel.

The Durham: The Wild Indigo Yonder

Created by Brice Scouten & Kevin Coe

The Durham’s Wild Indigo Yonder reflects our city’s history as the site of the first textile mill in the South to produce denim. We’ve used butterfly pea flowers to naturally infuse our Conniption American Dry Gin cocktail with a true indigo flower hue.


1.5 ounces Conniption American Dry Gin
0.25 ounce White Verjus
0.25 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
0.5 ounce lavender and butterfly pea flower infused Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur*

*To make the infusion, combine 1.5 ounces Luxardo Liqueur, 1 ounce water, 1 tablespoon dried lavender and three dried butterfly pea flowers. Combine in pot and simmer for two minutes. Fine strain and cool before using.

Combine the infused liqueur and the rest of the ingredients. Shake and serve. Garnish with lemon peel.


For more information on Durham 150, download the Durham 150 guide here, and visit durham150.org for more information.