Treacle Cocktail? Off With Your Head!

In The Imbibery and Distillery by Christine McKellar

Any aficionado of Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) is certainly familiar with the timeless classic tales he penned; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel, Through the Looking Glass. I wondered as a child while reading Chapter VII, “A Mad Tea-Party”, what was treacle and why would it make one ill?

“The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. `I wasn’t asleep,’ he said in a hoarse, feeble voice: `I heard every word you fellows were saying.’

`Tell us a story!’ said the March Hare.

`Yes, please do!’ pleaded Alice.

`And be quick about it,’ added the Hatter, `or you’ll be asleep again before it’s done.’

`Once upon a time there were three little sisters,’ the Dormouse began in a great hurry; `and their names were Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie; and they lived at the bottom of a well–‘

`What did they live on?’ said Alice, who always took a great interest in questions of eating and drinking.

`They lived on treacle,’ said the Dormouse, after thinking a minute or two.

`They couldn’t have done that, you know,’ Alice gently remarked; `they’d have been ill.’

`So they were,’ said the Dormouse; `very ill.’ “

Treacle is not what I had childishly imagined (for some reason I had visions of a greenish brown algae-like substance). Rather it’s a brown sugar liquid byproduct (syrup) of refined sugar. Golden syrup treacle is a common sweetener used in British desserts such as treacle tart and treacle sponge pudding. (And, yes, Alice. You were wise beyond your years in comprehending that a diet composed solely of sugar would most certainly be bad for one’s health!) Dark treacle is a syrup variety also known as molasses.

But, how about a treacly cocktail or two for some Halloween spirit? And just two will do from the looks of this traditional Cornish fisherman’s holiday cocktail:  the Mahogany.  Happy Halloween sipping!

Mahogany Cocktail



1 part dark treacle (molasses)

2 parts gin


Measure ingredients into mule mug or highball glass.

Stir lightly

Add ice

Top with a spring of mint or lemon rind.