Dubonnet is a sweet, aromatised wine–based aperitif with 15% alcohol by volume. It is a blend of fortified wine, herbs, and spices (including a small amount of quinine), with fermentation being stopped by the addition of alcohol. The brand is currently produced in France by Pernod Ricard, and in the USA by Heaven Hill Distilleries of Bardstown, Kentucky. The company says it is the "number-one selling aperitif brand in the United States". The beverage is famous in the UK for being the favourite drink of Queen Elizabeth II.
Dubonnet was first sold in 1846 by Joseph Dubonnet, in response to a competition run by the French Government to find a way of persuading French Foreign Legionnaires in North Africa to drink quinine. Quinine combats malaria but is very bitter.
The brand ownership was taken over by Pernod Ricard in 1976. It was re-popularised in late 1970s by an advertising campaign starring Pia Zadora. It is available in Rouge, Blanc and Gold (vanilla and orange) varieties. Dubonnet is also widely known by the advertisement slogan of the French graphic designer Cassandre "Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet" (a play on words roughly meaning "It's nice; it's good; it's Dubonnet"), which still can be found on walls of houses in France. The brand later became owned by Heaven Hill.
Reputedly Dubonnet is a favourite beverage of:
- Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who liked gin and Dubonnet: 30% gin, 70% Dubonnet with a slice of lemon under the ice. She once noted before a trip, "I think that I will take two small bottles of Dubonnet and gin with me this morning, in case it is needed."
- Queen Elizabeth II, who likes two-parts Dubonnet and one-part gin with two cubes of ice and a lemon slice before lunch every day.
- Nelson Rockefeller, whose taste for alcohol was moderate, would have an occasional glass of Dubonnet on the rocks.
References in popular culture
- Motley Crue song "Somethin' for Nothin'" features the line "Dubonnet on the rocks"
- The 1946 film I Know Where I'm Going, the main character, Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller), is served her drink in a very fashionable nightclub by the waiter, who says, "Here's your usual, Miss Webster." Her very conservative banker father, with surprise, inquires, "Your usual?" Joan replies, "Yes, gin and Dubonnie!"
- In A Woman Is a Woman by Jean-Luc Godard from 1961, Angela played by Anna Karina is drinking Dubonnet in a café with her friend Alfred played by Jean-Paul Belmondo when listening to Charles Aznavour.
- In Sylvia Plath's 1963 novel The Bell Jar, the character Buddy Willard buys Dubonnet to show that "he could be aesthetic in spite of being a medical student."
- Dubonnet is mentioned in the Lou Reed song "Berlin" (on the 1971 album Lou Reed and the 1973 album Berlin): "In Berlin, by the wall / you were five foot ten inches tall / It was very nice / candlelight and Dubonnet on ice."
- Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) drinks "Dubonnet over ice" in the 1973 movie The Way We Were.
- When Meshulam Riklis owned the company that then imported Dubonnet to the United States, his then wife Pia Zadora was featured in its television commercials.
- In the 1982 movie Tootsie, Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman), the main character, in character as "Dorothy Michaels," the female role he has assumed to get work, orders a "Dubonnet with a twist" while dining at the Russian Tea Room.
- Dubonnet is the favorite beverage of Hetty Wainthropp (self-made private investigator) of the BBC series Hetty Wainthropp Investigates (1996-1998).
- In the second season of the TV series Mad Men, Bobbie Barrett orders a "Dubonnet with a twist" at Lutèce.
- Dubonnet and bitter lemon is the regular tipple of Mary Tayor of Coronation Street, or so she tells love interest Brendan in January 2016.
- Queen Elizabeth II likes to have her pre-lunch gin and Dubonnet in front of BBC Two's The Daily Politics.
- Preferred drink of Harry Palmer in the spy novel "The Ipcress File" (Chapter 13, page 195)
The following include Dubonnet as one of their ingredients:
- Alfonso, The
- Apple Dubonnet
- Arnaud's Special (New Orleans)
- Blackthorn Cocktail
- Dubonnet Cassis
- Dubonnet Cocktail
- Dubonnet Daniella
- Dubonnet Delight
- Dubonnet Fizz
- Dubonnet Helado
- Dubonnet Highball
- Dubonnet Kiss
- Dubonnet Manhattan
- Dubonnet Negroni
- Dubonnet Royal
- Dubonnet TT
- Jack London Martini
- Opera Cocktail
- Red Moonlight
- Rum Dubonnet
- San Diego Cocktail
- Savoy Hotel Special
- Trois Rivieres
- Mummy Love
- Marble Hill
- Bossunova Belt
- Magic Juice
- The Queen Mother
- Gin and tonic, another drink invented to encourage European colonial soldiers in tropical climates to take quinine.
- Official website
- Geoghegan, Tom (July 20, 2009). "Who still drinks Dubonnet?". BBC News. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
- "Queen Mother 'pack gin' note sold". BBC News. July 5, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
- "Rare insight into Queen Mum's life as Backstairs Billy mementos sold". Hello!. July 3, 2008. Archived from the original on September 22, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
- Alderson, Andrew (July 5, 2009). "Exclusive: behind the scenes with the Queen". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
- Clines, Francis (August 20, 1974). "Always Wanted Presidency: Rocky Settles for Second". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. The New York Times. p. 12c.
- http://www.enotes.com/topic/Dubonnet[dead link]