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The Yellow Bird cocktail is a must try! You’ll love the bright color and balanced flavor of this drink, with notes of vanilla and licorice.

Yellow Bird Cocktail
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Here’s a tasty sweet and sour cocktail that’s uniquely delicious: the Yellow Bird cocktail! This bright yellow drink is a sour cocktail with a little extra bling: a nuanced finish with notes of vanilla and licorice. The sophistication comes from Galliano, a bright yellow Italian liqueur that’s worth grabbing for this recipe. Alex and I were extraordinarily impressed with this one, as we were with other cocktails using this fancy liqueur. Here’s how to make the Yellow Bird drink!

What’s in a Yellow Bird cocktail?

The Yellow Bird is a cocktail made with rum, Galliano liqueur, triple sec, and lime juice. There’s very little known about its history. Some people think it was named after a Haitian song called the Yellow Bird, others think it was named for the bright yellow Galliano liqueur. It’s hard to know when it was invented. Our best guess it that it was invented sometime in the 1960s or 70s, when Galliano rose to popularity in the US. The Yellow Bird reminds us of the Golden Dream and Golden Cadillac, Galliano cocktails born in the 1950’s and 60’s.

There are several ways to make a Yellow Bird drink: some call it a beach drink, others say it’s a tiki drink and add pineapple and orange juice. For our rendition of the Yellow Bird, we’ve stayed true to the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This specifies the “official” way to make a Yellow Bird; shake and strain the following ingredients into a cocktail glass:

  • Galliano liqueur
  • Orange liqueur: Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • White rum
  • Lime juice
Yellow Bird drink

More about Galliano

Galliano is what makes the Yellow Bird such an interesting drink. You’ve never tasted anything like it! This herbal vanilla liqueur has so much nuance and complexity, you’ll be hooked from first sip. Here’s a little more about this unique liqueur:

  • Galliano L’Autentico is a bright yellow, sweet herbal Italian liqueur made with a blend of 30 herbs. It’s been produced in Tuscany, Italy since 1896.
  • What does Galliano taste like? It’s sweet and complex, with a strong vanilla flavor and notes of anise, juniper, cinnamon, and citrus.
  • How much does Galliano cost? It’s mid-priced compared to other liqueurs: about $17 to $20 for a 375 ml bottle and about $30 to $35 for a 750 ml bottle.
  • Is it worth buying? Yes! It tastes like pure gold. You can drink it as a digestif (a shot after a meal), or mix it into cocktails like the Harvey Wallbanger, Golden Dream, and Golden Cadillac.

Orange liqueur: use Triple Sec or Cointreau

The other ingredient that makes the Yellow Bird so tasty? The orange liqueur. There are lots of types of orange liqueur, but you can use either Triple Sec or Cointreau. Which to choose? Here’s more:

  • Triple Sec is the IBA definition, so we’ve used it here. In most of our cocktail recipes that use orange liqueur, we opt for Cointreau. But for the Yellow Bird drink we’ve opted for Triple Sec, which is part of the IBA definition. It has a more straightforward orange flavor, almost like orange-infused vodka.
  • Cointreau has an even richer, more nuanced flavor. Cointreau has a robust, rich flavor and an orange perfume essence; it tastes more sophisticated than Triple Sec. It’s our top choice for classics like the MargaritaSidecar and Cosmo and it absolutely works here too.

How to serve a Yellow Bird cocktail

There is lots of variation in Yellow Bird recipes: some people treat it more as a beach drink or go full-on Tiki-style with several types of rum. But the classic IBA definition simply serves it up in a cocktail glass, as you’d drink a martini. You can choose whatever method suits the occasion:

  • Straight up in a cocktail glass. Shake it up and strain it into a cocktail glass or martini glass.
  • On the rocks in a highball glass. Strain it into a highball glass and serve with ice
Yellow Bird Cocktail

When to serve a Yellow Bird

The Yellow Bird is a tasty sour cocktail that’s great for happy hour or a signature cocktail, or even just a simple drink idea to use up your Galliano liqueur. Try it for a:

  • Happy hour drink
  • Girls or guys night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
  • Signature drink
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Yellow Bird Cocktail

Yellow Bird Cocktail

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4.4 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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The Yellow Bird cocktail is a must try! You’ll love the bright color and balanced flavor of this drink, with its notes of vanilla and licorice.


  • 2 ounces* white rum
  • 1 ounce Galliano liqueur 
  • 1 ounce triple sec (or Cointreau)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • For the garnish: Lime slice and cocktail cherry


  1. Place the rum, Galliano, triple sec, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add 2 handfuls of ice and shake until cold. 
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime strip and cocktail cherry if desired. 


*For conversion to tablespoons, 2 ounces = ¼ cup. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Dominic Maluski says:

    Gotta say I was skeptical when I read the recipe (having tasted all the components unmixed before). Perhaps I was biased going into it, but the Galliano really doesn’t combine well with the other ingredients. Also, the given ratios are incredibly high… If I had made this with 2oz rum, 1oz Galliano, and 1 oz of my orange liqueur at 40% abv… I’d be on the floor in minutes.

    Given they’re calling this a Yellow Bird, I think a great improvement to this recipe would be to substitute Yellow Chartreuse for the Galliano, and cut the measurements to 1.5 oz of rum, and 3/4 oz of everything else.

    An interesting idea, but the anise flavor of the Galliano really doesn’t pair well with the other ingredients in my opinion.

  2. Paul says:

    In my exploration of the cocktails that are out there, this is my new favorite cocktail. If you’re a fan of sours, this is fantastic.

  3. Desiree gopie says:

    I was interested n the liquor Galliano and loved your honesty about not being alive in the 1970s. I was and can attest that lots happened! I found this vintage bottle in elk River Mn. It’s missing a few details and one on a search for what. And found you!

  4. Brandon says:

    I’m not sure why you think adding pineapple and orange juice would make this a tiki drink. I would argue that it is close to a tiki drink without it. Look at the classic mai tai.

    1. James Marsh says:

      I added a splash of orange juice to this to brighten up the flavor and color. Good recipe.