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Join us in making the Dumpster Fire your NYE 2021 cocktail of record to help send off yet another year of years with a bang. I first developed this drink for 2020 — but believe me, I’ll be making it again.

Dumpster Fire Cocktail
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Why we love this recipe (2020 edition)

For years, we’ve celebrated NYE by hosting dear friends. This year, even though we’ll be toasting via Zoom, we wanted to continue our tradition of sharing a signature cocktail.

Our friend Jordan (of cookie fame) suggested the name for this drink, which hails generally from 2020 and more specifically from a GIF-heavy happy birthday text I sent her a few months back. The ingredients were inspired by Venn Diagramming a photo of their liquor cabinet with a glance at ours.

This citrusy gin drink has a little bit of everything, including nods to two classic cocktails whose namesakes perished in 2020, each in their own way: The Pegu Club (RIP the NYC cocktail lounge, April 2020) and The White Lady (Bye, Karen). 

A Dumpster Fire cocktail is garnished with an orange twist. If you like, you can set it on fire. The slight smoky flavor of a flaming twist makes no particular sense in this drink, but what even does make sense anymore?

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make a Dumpster Fire cocktail.

gin, cointreau, angostura bitters, lemon, and lime
  • Gin: Your favorite London Dry will do nicely. If you hate gin but still want a Dumpster Fire, vodka would be a fine substitution.
  • Cointreau: This clear orange liqueur is a wildly amenable cocktail ingredient. Honestly, it’s the one and only wildly amenable thing I can think of right now.
  • Fresh lime and lemon juices: Squeeze your own juice shortly before using.
  • Angostura bitters: Aromatic bitters add a subtle complexity. The first time I made this drink, I accidentally reached for orange bitters and added two dashes of that before also adding the aromatic bitters. They made a nice addition, so feel free to add them too if you like.
  • Orange twist: A regular orange twist is the best flavor pairing for this drink, but if you feel like lighting it on fire, I’m not gonna stop you. See the FAQs below to learn more.

How to make it

Here’s what you’ll do to make a Dumpster Fire cocktail. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the gin.
  2. Pour in the Cointreau.
  3. Squeeze the lemon and lime juices and add to the shaker along with two dashes of bitters.
  4. Shake very well and strain into a coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist and serve right away.

Expert tips and FAQs

Wait, light the orange twist on fire?

Mmmhmm. The oil in orange peel is just flammable enough to catch for a moment when you spritz some into the air. A flaming garnish helps to create a more authentic, if delightful-smelling, dumpster fire vibe.

There are a few tricks to getting this to work.

(1) Start with a nice, fresh orange, since fresher fruit contains a lot more oil.

(2) Cut a nice big piece of peel, and make it both thicker (by including some of the white pith) and rounder/less long than you usually would for a twist. This will make it easier to pinch between your thumb and forefinger.

(3) Hold the lit match a few inches above the filled glass, and hold the twist about two two inches above the match. Any closer and the twist itself may char.

(4) Quickly and sharply press the ends of the peel together with your thumb and forefinger. This action should express enough oil to ignite for a second. If not, keep practicing carefully until you get the hang of it.

Watch the video here, and practice, practice, practice — maybe over the sink. 🙂 Or skip it — a regular twist is a better pairing with the flavors of this cocktail anyway.

Can I make it sweeter?

Sure, if you’d like to make this cocktail a little bit sweeter, add 1/2 ounce of 1:1 simple syrup before shaking.

Can I batch the Dumpster Fire cocktail?

You sure can! For eight drinks: Into a pitcher, pour 2 cups gin, 3/4 cup Cointreau, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, 16 dashes Angostura bitters, and 1/2 cup cold water. Stir well and chill until very cold. When it’s time to serve, garnish each glass with an orange twist.

More favorite gin cocktails

The Dumpster Fire, A Sour Gin Cocktail

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The Dumpster Fire, A Sour Gin Cocktail
4.60 from 47 votes

The Dumpster Fire

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Make The Dumpster Fire your NYE 2020 cocktail of record to help send off this year of years with a bang. This drink has a little bit of everything, including nods to two classic cocktails whose namesakes perished this year, each in their own way: The Pegu Club (RIP the NYC cocktail lounge, April 2020) and The White Lady (Bye, Karen). 
If you like, you can set the orange twist on fire. The slight smoky flavor of a flaming twist makes no particular sense in this drink, but what even does make sense anymore?
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 1
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Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce Cointreau
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange twist to garnish

Instructions 

  • Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. 
  • Pour in gin, Cointreau, lime juice, and lemon juice, and dash in the bitters. 
  • Shake well, until you’re not totally sure whether hell has frozen over.
  • Strain into a cocktail or coupe glass.
  • Garnish with an orange twist, flaming if you like.

Notes

  1. If you’re not into gin, you could substitute vodka.
  2. The first time I made this cocktail, I accidentally added two dashes of orange bitters before realizing I hadn’t grabbed the Angostura bitters (because #2020). It turned out to be a nice addition, so feel free to add that layer of extra bitterness (because…well, you know why).
  3. The slightly smoky flavor that results from lighting an orange twist doesn’t have a particular affinity for this citrusy gin cocktail. But it does lend a little excitement and a certain authenticity to a Dumpster Fire. This technique works because the oil released when you squeeze a piece of orange rind between your fingers is flammable enough to catch fire briefly in the air. Learn how to do it here, and please be careful.
  4. You can batch this cocktail if you like. To make 8 drinks: Into a pitcher, pour 2 cups gin, 3/4 cup Cointreau, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, 16 dashes Angostura bitters, and 1/2 cup cold water. Stir well and chill until very cold. When it’s time to serve, garnish each glass with an orange twist.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 273kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 3mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 18g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktails
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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