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.
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
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 Margarita, Sidecar 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
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
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
- Place the rum, Galliano, triple sec, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add 2 handfuls of ice and shake until cold.
- Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime strip and cocktail cherry if desired.
*For conversion to tablespoons, 2 ounces = 1/4 cup.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Cocktails
Keywords: Yellow Bird cocktail, Yellow Bird drink
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.