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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.

Cable Car Cocktail garnished with a cinnamon-sugared rim

However, it took off immediately and has been found on menus around the country ever since. 

How to Make a Cable Car

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

Cable Car Cocktail garnished with a cinnamon-sugared rim

Cable Car

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

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. 


  • 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


  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.
  3. Dip the rim into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and coat evenly. Set the glass aside for later. 
  4. Pour the spiced rum, the orange curacao, the lemon juice, and the simple syrup into a shaker with ice.
  5. Shake the ingredients together until blended and chilled. 
  6. Double-strain the drink into the prepared glass and garnish it with the orange spiral. 

Did you make this recipe?

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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 rum to monetize on the demand. 


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. 

Cable Car Cocktail
Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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