Top 5 Marsala Wine Cocktail Recipes

Marsala is a fortified wine outside of Italy that we often use in the states for cooking only. But Sicilian liquid can be great as a base for drinks and cocktails. After all, the Portuguese love a good, tonic port, and the Spaniards mix with sherry all the time. Why should we treat the Brothers Marsala drink differently?

The answer, of course, is that we shouldn’t do that. Marsala is a dynamic animal, sometimes rich and gentle, sometimes lighter and more salty. It is practically as old as time in its native land – aptly called Marsala (located in western Sicily in southern Italy). But it wasn’t until the 18th century that English importers discovered the winds of Marsala wine that it was heavily exported. It is still a lesser known fortified wine, less well known here than, say, Port, sherry or vermouth, but it should really be more attractive.

Flickr / Terry Feuerborn

Arguably, Marsala is very similar to sherry or Madeira, often nutty and oxidized and commonly associated with cooking (Chicken Marsala, anyone?). DOC status dates back to the late 1960s, and like Champagne or Chianti, the area has held naming rights ever since. In other words, to be a real Marsala, you have to be a Marsala. It’s usually made with authentic Grillo grapes, and while you should actually cook with the stuff—particularly the lower shelf options—the really good stuff should be enjoyed in style, with complementing cheese and nuts, or mixed into a radiant cocktail.

When making a cocktail that contains Marsala, the best advice is to keep things relatively simple. Fortified wines will bring just enough sophistication to the table, so all you really need are a few like-minded flavors or a little dilution. Also note that the flavor spectrum for Marsala is quite wide, so be sure to pay attention to the label or sample what you have before you start mixing.

Here are some popular cocktails that you can try with Marsala. You can even get a new favorite. If nothing else, you’ll be way ahead of what should be an emerging trend in the land of cocktails. The martini recipe is from Difford’s while the rest is courtesy of the popular Florio Marsala brand, founded in Sicily in 1833.


Manhattan Superior

Manhattan Superior Cocktail.

Marsala and whiskey are fast friends, as proven here. The wine glides beautifully in place of the sweet vermouth. Be sure to use a candy Marsala to amplify the richness of the cocktail.


  • 2 oz Irish whiskey Busker
  • 1 ounce VecchioFlorio Sweet Marsala Superiore
  • 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  3. Garnished with orange peel.

bloody marsala

Bloody Marsala Cocktail.

With the salty notes that good dry Marsala often touts, it’s no wonder it works so well this morning (or early afternoon, if you’re eating brunch).


  • 1.5 oz VecchioFlorio Dry Marsala Superiore
  • 4 ounces tomato juice
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • 10 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tabasco dashes


  1. Mix all ingredients in a glass with ice.
  2. Stir well and garnish with a slice of lemon and a celery stalk.

Marsala and Tonic

Marsala and Tonic.

Keep it simple and play with the nuances and depth of refined Marsala here.


  • 2 oz Florio ‘Terre Ass’ Marsala Superiore Riserva
  • cooled tonic water


  1. Add Marsala to a glass of ice with ice.
  2. Fill a mug with tonic water and decorate with an orange slice.

Marsala Martini

Good and rare secret menu from Russia with love martini
good and rare

This recipe from Difford’s Guide is in keeping with the harmony created with good marsala, dry vermouth, and a touch of amaretto.


  • 2 ounces dry gin
  • 1/3 ounce dry dry Marsala Superiore wine
  • 1/3 ounce dry liquor
  • 1/6 ounce amaretto


  1. Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  2. Garnished with pickled almonds.

Real Garibaldi

Real Garibaldi Cocktail.

Another simple yet satisfying cocktail that counts on nothing more than some fresh citrus, fruity notes, raisins, and oak for a bit of fortified wine.


  • 1.5 oz VecchioFlorio Dry Marsala Superiore
  • 5 ounces of fresh orange juice


  1. Combine ingredients in a large glass with ice.
  2. Stir well and garnish with an orange slice.

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