Cable Car Cocktail garnished with a cinnamon-sugared rim
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Cable Car Cocktail

Though widely recognized as a classic in the world of bartending today, the cable car actually isn’t that old of a drink. However, it took off immediately and has been found on menus around the country ever since. 

About & History

Unlike many other cocktails, we actually do know the history behind how the cable car was created. Bartender Tony Abou-Ganim is credited with inventing this cocktail in 1996. A modern interpretation of the Sidecar cocktail, Abou-Ganim sought to revamp the drink with a new twist that would make it an instant classic. 

The goal was not only to showcase the bold flavor of spiced rum but to also pay homage to the city in which it was created: San Francisco. 

In the 90s, it wasn’t so common for bartenders to create specialty cocktails. Most menus stuck to the basics, and you never saw an original creation dawn their pages. So when Abou-Ganim made this drink, he was up to the challenge of breathing new life into a tired, forgotten cocktail. 

Many who were around at that time credited the drink’s major success to the simple yet genius pairing of spiced rum with cinnamon sugar. It was a flavor that no one could resist, yet the cocktail looked classic enough for serious drinkers. Plus, it reached a far wider audience than straight brandy or whiskey did. 

It wasn’t long before other restaurants were putting the cable car on their menus. Many restaurants even claimed it was their most popular drink, and more companies started producing their own brands of spiced rum to monetize on the demand. 

Today, there are several variations of the cable car, including ones with caramelized rims and frozen drinks. It was truly a drink that took the bartending world by storm. 


While there are other variations of the cable car, we’re going to stick to the basics on this one with these ingredients: 

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 ½ oz. spiced rum of choice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. orange curacao 
  • Orange spiral for garnish 

These ingredients combine to make the sidecar variation, the cable car. 

How to Make a Cable Car

If you want to try to make a cable car for yourself, follow these simple steps: 

  1. Combine the sugar and ground cinnamon in a shallow dish or saucer until well-blended. 
  2. Take a cocktail glass and rub the rim with the lemon wedge until moist. Dip the rim into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and coat evenly. Set the glass aside for later. 
  3. Pour the spiced rum, the orange curacao, the lemon juice, and the simple syrup into a shaker with ice. Shake the ingredients together until blended and chilled. 
  4. Double strain the drink into the prepared glass and garnish it with the orange spiral. 

For more of a garnish, you can also add an orange wedge to the rim of the glass and top the drink with a whole cinnamon stick. 

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