King George V - A Downton Abbey cocktail

Beware, dear readers. Here be spoilers. Like I mentioned yesterday, Downton Abbey‘s fifth season is in progress here in the US, and the major theme is change. The 1920s provide the perfect backdrop for the big societal shifts the people of Downton-- upstairs and downstairs-- are facing. A few highlights:

  • Lady Mary is playing the field, sleeping with men before marrying them (whoa!). Unfortunately said dudes are all, "Hey, totes sleep with me and figure out if this is meant to be," and then afterward are predictably all, "You're a stupid slut! Why would you sleep with me if you didn't want to marry me?!" Will Lady Mary's budding feminism win over other people's (often faux) propriety?
  • Papa Grantham is still mostly a jerk, but now he's a jerk who is realizing his way of life is nearly obsolete. I would almost feel bad for him if he wasn't so awful to Cora all the time, and if he didn't constantly prove why he's obsolete. I am cautiously optimistic about his decision to preserve the lands surrounding Downton, though.
  • Edith is still crying and making terrible decisions, so no news on that front.
  • Daisy, however, is having moments of clarity, realizing that perhaps she could get an education, and therefore have choices. I almost like Daisy right now. Almost.
  • Rose has turned out to be surprisingly awesome this season, volunteering and standing up for her right to choose a partner when she's ready. She's also that young whippersnapper who is moving the, er, traditional sensibilities of Downton toward progress with regard to art and technology.

And it's that progress that brings me to the subject of this week's cocktail: King George V. You may remember the episode a few weeks ago where Rose tried to convince Papa Grantham to get a wireless radio for the house. She tried just about everything to get him to agree to it, and was unsuccessful until she realized that the King would be addressing the nation via the radio. Stephen Carter of BloombergView notes:

Nowadays, such news would occasion a shrug. At the time, it was a thunderclap.

George V’s address to open the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in April of 1924 was the first time the monarch spoke on the radio. Historians tell us that the event aroused such excitement that traffic was stopped and loudspeakers were set up on sidewalks outside large stores so people could listen. The occasion was, says Maurice Roche in his history of mass exhibitions, “the first time the British public as a whole had been gathered together to participate in a national event through the new medium.”

I don't know that I could say much of anything about King George V that you couldn't find on Wikipedia, but I will note that this move on his part was a pretty big deal, both for him and "The Empire." For a dude who preferred stamp collecting and maintaining the social status quo, addressing the country on the radio was a bold move. I also just love the way the old school met the new during the portrayal of the address on the show:

The people of Downton Abbey stand for King George V's address on the wireless.

Want to be briefly transported back in time? Take a listen to a portion of another address by King George V and Queen Mary:

The recipe

So how does one make a drink fit for a king? As with any Downton Abbey cocktail, there's a little bit of a balancing act between fiction and history. With this drink I wanted to blend the old school with the new, hence the combination of gin with bourbon. I thought the drink should be citrusy, a little sweet, and reminiscent of a classic cocktail-- fresh and nostalgic, all at the same time. The embodiment of the old guard yielding to the new (if just a little bit).

King George V: An original cocktail inspired by Downton Abbey

Recipe for King George V: A cocktail inspired by Downton Abbey | Sara Galactica
Recipe for King George V: A cocktail inspired by Downton Abbey | Sara Galactica

What you'll need:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz honey syrup
  • 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • Lemon twist

How to do it:

Combine all liquids in cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake-ah shake-ah shake-ah for about 15 seconds, until everything is nice and cold and those frothy little bits of ice break up.

Strain into cocktail glass. Serve with a twist. Notice the the sweet tang of citrus and subtle warmth of bourbon. Sip. Enjoy.


  • Honey syrup is easily made by combining equal parts warm water and honey, stirring until dissolved. You can use this immediately.
  • Remember to make your twist right near your drink so you get the little spray of lemon oils while you're zesting-- that's good stuff.