Dubonnet Rouge, France 14.8% 75cl


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Dubonnet Rouge is a French sweet, red aromatised wine. It is a technically a “quinquina” (not a vermouth), a drink which contains cinchona bark which is a source of quinine which was used in treating malaria. The wine is “aromatised”, or flavoured, with secret botanicals including herbs, spices and peels. It is traditinally served as an aperitif, although it is also an essential cocktail ingredient.

Dubonnet was  created by Parisian chemist / wine merchant Joseph Dubonnet in 1846 as a means to make quinine more palatable for the soldiers battling malaria in North Africa.  Dubonnet’s mix of fortified wine, a proprietary blend of herbs, spices and peels, and the medicinal quinine is a recipe that has earned it legendary status in the world of sophisticated drinks. Today the brand is owned and produced by the French drinks company Pernod Ricard. Rather unusually there is another type of Dubonnet produced in the USA by Heaven Hill in Kentucky, who obtained the USA rights in 1993. This is a differnet product.

The base wine for Dubonnet Rouge is made from a blend of grapes, Carignan, Macabeo, Muscat and Grenache from the Languedoc Roussillon. This is fortified and then aged for 3 or 4 hours. The wine (by now a mistelles) is then flavoured with the secret blend of herbs, spices and peels. The Cinchona bark, an original medicinal ingredient, derived from bark of the South American Cinchona tree, produces a dry tannin note. 

Dubonnet’s enduring popularity can be largely credited to its versatility. In the words of noted mixologist Dale DeGroff, “With its rich ruby color, spicy aroma, and refreshing flavors, Dubonnet embodies the best of the aperitif cocktail.” Inspiring mixologists through the ages, Dubonnet earned its own eponymous cocktail – made from equal parts Dubonnet and dry gin, topped off with a splash of orange bitters and a twist of lemon – in the early 1900s. Reputedly it is the preferred beverage of: the French Foreign Legion and HM Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who both liked to drink Gin and Dubonnet.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Dubonnet has a deep ruby color with a slight brownish tinge.

Aroma: The aroma is complex and spicy, with notes of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, along with a subtle hint of bitterness.

Flavour: The flavour of Dubonnet is rich and full-bodied, with a complex blend of flavours. It is slightly sweet at first, with flavours of cherry, blackberry, and vanilla, followed by a mild bitterness and a hint of spiciness on the finish.

To Serve

Dubonnet is typically served as an aperitif on its own over ice, garnished with a twist of lemon or orange. It can also be used as an ingredient in cocktails. 

The Queen Mother Dubonnet Cocktail is a classic cocktail that was reportedly created for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Here is a recipe for the cocktail:


  • 2 oz Dubonnet
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Orange twist for garnish


  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add the Dubonnet, gin, and orange bitters.
  3. Stir well for about 20 seconds.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange twist.


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