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Big Trouble in Oaxaca Cocktail

This cocktail featuring tequila with Midori, pineapple, and green ancho chile liqueurs hails from the Rome, Italy bar Drink Kong. Here's how to make it.

9:00 AM EDT on October 13, 2023

yellow cocktail

Big Trouble in Oaxaca, made with tequila and a blend of liqueurs that includes the neon green Midori. Photo: © 2023 by Andy Sewell. Reproduced by permission of Phaidon. All rights reserved.

In her new book, Signature Cocktails, from Phaidon, Amanda Schuster tracks the history of 200 classic drinks, including some newer icons, like this Big Trouble in Oaxaca cocktail from Rome's Drink Kong. Here is an excerpt from the book, available now.

Set in a quaint, out-of-the-way town square in Rome, Italy, Drink Kong is the sort of bar that reminds people that drinking is supposed to be fun. Inside, it’s a chic, modern, wraparound venue with an aesthetic that’s a futuristic mashup of late 1970s and 80s arcade kitsch sprinkled with Blade Runner-esque Japanese influences along with King Kong design themes (the Kong reportedly because of the resemblance to hulking, bearded co-owner Patrick Pistolesi, who opened the bar in 2018 with the Jerry Thomas Speakeasy team)—even the ice is stamped with the bar’s Kong-esque logo.

For its opening menu, bar manager Livio Morena created Big Trouble in Oaxaca. As the perfect reflection of the bar itself, the cocktail combines retro 80s neon cheekiness (Midori) with crowd-pleasing yet sophisticated ingredients such as tequila, ancho chili and pineapple liqueurs, and lemon sour, all wrapped in a nostalgic nod to period pop culture; the name references the 1986 action-comedy Big Trouble in Little China, starring actor Kurt Russell.

Pistolesi says that one of the main reasons they used electric-green Midori melon liqueur in the cocktail was because in 2018 it just seemed so dated and weird that it might be the perfect way to attract attention to the bar and also show love for Japanese culture. It worked. Although the bar’s thematic menu changes seasonally, Pistolesi says Big Trouble in Oaxaca has been one of Drink Kong’s best-sellers since the beginning, helping to garner massive international awards in its first year.

“No chains will ever hold that,” as they say in the 1933 original movie.

YEAR: 2018

ORIGIN: Rome, Italy

INVENTOR: Livio Morena

PREMISES: Drink Kong

ALCOHOL TYPE: Tequila; Midori

GLASSWARE: Tumbler or rocks

Big Trouble in Oaxaca

Big Trouble in Oaxaca

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Recipe by Amanda Schuster


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 1/2 oz 1 1/2 (45 ml) tequila blanco

  • 3/4 oz 3/4 (22 ml) pineapple liqueur

  • 1/2 oz 1/2 (15 ml) Midori liqueur

  • 1/2 oz 1/2 (15 ml) green ancho chili liqueur

  • 1 oz 1 (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 oz 1/2 (15 g) sugar


  • Shake all ingredients with ice.
  • Strain into a short tumbler or rocks glass over a large ice cube.


  • Adapted from Signature Cocktails by Amanda Schuster (Phaidon, US .95, 2023)

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