Now we’re getting onto the classics. This is a drink that every bartender great and small should know, the Horses Neck. Dating back to at least the 1800s, it started life as one of the original mocktails. By the turn of the last century, it had firmly established itself as a cocktail for the ages. Though there are a variety of whiskeys that you can grace this cocktail with, we made our Horse’s Neck with Jameson Irish whiskey. My verdict is that the Horse’s Neck is not only perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, but for any day of the year.
- 2 oz rye, bourbon, or Irish whiskey
- One long spiraled lemon peel
- Ginger ale
- 1-3 dashes of bitters (optional)
The Horse’s Neck is preferably served a tall Collins glass. Situate your lemon peel in a spiral around the glass. Add ice to the bottom to hold the lemon peel in place. Remember to curl the end of the lemon peel over the lip of the glass (I didn’t do this in the video). This gives the drink the visual effect of a horse peeking its neck over its stall. Add your choice of whiskey, and bitters, if you take them. Top your Horse’s Neck off with ginger ale. Serve and enjoy!
There are variations to this drink. If you use brandy instead of whiskey, the drink is called a Horse’s Collar. If real Kentucky bourbon and the soft drink Ale-8-One are used, the drink is referred to as a Kentucky Gentleman. (Ale-8-One is a type of ginger ale only sold in the Kentucky region).
Most of the time prepping this drink is spent peeling the lemon. It should take about two minutes to put together a Horse’s Neck. Concise and subtle, the Horse’s Neck is one of the classic cocktails, going back to the late 1800s. It’s ginger. lemon, and whiskey flavors make it a refreshing cocktail that never goes out of season.
History of the Horse’s Neck
It’s funny how this drink changed from being a virgin drink to an alcoholic cocktail in the first few years after it’s inception. In the 19th century, the Horse’s Neck was simply ginger ale and the lemon peel, according to an 1895 Ft. Wayne Journal article. An article in the same publication a few years later suggests that this drink might be good with a splash of whiskey. By 1900, a Horse’s Neck had become a cocktail of brandy, ginger ale, and the lemon peel (now referred to as a Horse’s Collar). If you were ordering the alcoholic version of this drink, you would ask for a Horse’s Neck “with a kick”. Bourbon became a regular ingredient in this drink around 1910. Somewhere along the line, rye whiskey had become the spirit of choice for this drink. I’m not so sure about that variety, but I do like mine with Jameson or Maker’s Mark.
An urban legend from a century ago states that a Baltimore bartender who was about to get fired from his job invented the Horse’s Neck. The drink became so popular at his hotel, that the bartender’s job was saved. The drink was also said to be extremely popular among the officers of the British Royal Navy back in the day. James Bond author Ian Fleming depicts his characters ordering this libation in his novels Octopussy and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.