If you were among the small circle of serious imbibers before the cocktail renaissance, you coveted this drink. The best part: It tastes like artichokes.

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It doesn’t sound tempting when a bartender describes a cocktail as tasting like caraway and artichokes. That sounds like some grandma’s Old World home remedy to cure malaria.

Yet, in 2002, if you were among the small circle of serious imbibers before the cocktail renaissance, you coveted this drink. You knew where to get it (Zig Zag Cafe). And you certainly knew it was created not by a bartender but by a patron there.

Called the Trident, this exotic tipple has gone from cult status to become the most popular cocktail ever invented in our state.

Some claim the Last Word for our home banner, but that gin drink was invented at the Detroit Athletic Club and adopted by us.

The Trident was born here, at the Lake Forest Park house of Robert Hess, a Microsoft techie by day and cocktail geek by night.

It’s on the menu at many top cocktail bars in New York, San Francisco and even in Germany. It was featured recently at a new bar I visited in Austin, Texas.

In the Trident, Hess used the template of the classic Negroni, swapping out gin for the Scandinavian aquavit to create a different botanical profile, a nutty sherry to replace the sweet vermouth and an artichoke-flavored Cynar liqueur to replace the Campari. The result is a fragrant, dry, rich drink that more closely resembles a Manhattan.

Hess, who now lives in Duvall, got the staff at Zig Zag Cafe to sample the Trident 15 years ago, and the bartenders found the taste profile so distinctive that it remained on the menu for years.

The drink became an international hit about five years ago when sherry became trendy and bartenders started looking online for interesting sherry cocktails to put on their menus.

“Sherry,” by Talia Baiocchi, the definitive book on the subject, declared the Trident to be one of the few sherry drinks to achieve “modern classic status.” And the recently released “A Proper Drink,” by New York Times cocktail writer Robert Simonson, listed it as one of the 25 contemporary cocktails to know.

These days, any experienced hand at a well-stocked craft cocktail bar can make you that drink without looking it up. And it’s easy enough to make at home if you want to impress friends. Here’s how.


1 ounce dry sherry

1 ounce Cynar

1 ounce aquavit

2 dashes peach bitters



Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.