Horse’s Neck


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Welcome to the timeless elegance of the Horse’s Neck cocktail. This classic blend of bourbon and ginger ale, garnished with a distinctive lemon peel, offers a refreshing taste with a twist of sophistication. Whether you’re a bourbon aficionado or a cocktail enthusiast, the Horse’s Neck is a simple yet delightful choice for any occasion.

The Horse’s Neck seamlessly combines the warmth of bourbon with the zesty kick of ginger ale. Its history stretches back to the late 19th century, evolving from a non-alcoholic beverage to the spirited cocktail we enjoy today. Let’s dive into the essence of this storied drink.

Stay with us as we explore the Horse’s Neck, from its rich history and flavor profile to expert tips on crafting the perfect glass. Whether you’re hosting a gathering or unwinding after a long day, this cocktail is sure to impress.

Key Facts About the Horse’s Neck

Alcohol Volume: Approximately 14% ABV (28 proof)

Calories: Approximately 150-170 calories

Preferred Glass: Highball glass, tall and straight-sided

Typical Garnish: Long spiral of lemon peel

Interesting Facts about the Horse’s Neck

  • The Horse’s Neck was originally a non-alcoholic drink made with ginger ale and lemon peel.
  • It became an alcoholic cocktail when bourbon was introduced into the mix.
  • The drink’s name comes from the long spiral of lemon peel that resembles a horse’s neck.

Horse's Neck Cocktail

Tasting Notes

The Horse’s Neck cocktail is a harmonious blend of spicy, sweet, and citrus notes. The bourbon’s vanilla and oak flavors are lifted by the ginger ale’s effervescence, while the lemon peel adds a bright, aromatic finish. It’s a drink that appeals to those who appreciate a well-balanced cocktail with a refreshing edge.

This cocktail is perfect for warm summer evenings or as a pre-dinner aperitif. Its simplicity and elegance make it a versatile choice for casual get-togethers or more formal events. The Horse’s Neck is a testament to the beauty of simplicity in mixology.

History of the Horse’s Neck

The Horse’s Neck has its roots in the American bar scene of the late 1800s. Initially a “temperance drink” containing only ginger ale and lemon peel, it was popular among those avoiding alcohol. However, as the cocktail culture evolved, bourbon found its way into the glass, and the Horse’s Neck as we know it was born.

Throughout the 20th century, the Horse’s Neck maintained its status as a beloved cocktail. It was particularly favored by the American Navy, further cementing its place in cocktail history. The drink’s simplicity and refreshing taste have kept it a staple in bars worldwide.

Horse’s Neck Ingredients

  • Bourbon (2 oz / 60 ml): The soul of the cocktail, bourbon provides a rich, warm base with notes of vanilla and caramel.
  • Ginger Ale (6 oz / 180 ml): Adds a spicy sweetness and carbonation, creating a refreshing contrast to the bourbon.
  • Lemon Peel (1 long spiral): The signature garnish that not only gives the cocktail its name but also infuses it with a citrus aroma.
  • Ice Cubes: Keeps the drink chilled and dilutes it slightly for a smoother taste.

Did you know? The Horse’s Neck was a favorite among American naval officers, who helped popularize the drink in the early 20th century.

Preparing Horse's Neck

Horse’s Neck Method

Preparing the Glass

Start by selecting the right glass. A highball glass is traditional for the Horse’s Neck, providing ample space for ice and the perfect canvas for the lemon peel garnish.

Building the Drink

Fill the glass with ice cubes to the brim. This not only chills the drink but also slows down dilution, maintaining the cocktail’s integrity.

Adding the Bourbon

Pour 2 oz of bourbon over the ice. The quality of bourbon can greatly influence the drink’s overall flavor, so choose a bourbon that you enjoy on its own.

Topping with Ginger Ale

Gently add 6 oz of ginger ale to the glass. The ginger ale should be well chilled to keep the drink cold and refreshing.

Stirring the Cocktail

Use a bar spoon to lightly stir the mixture, integrating the bourbon with the ginger ale without losing carbonation.

Garnishing with Lemon Peel

Finally, carefully drape the long spiral of lemon peel over the rim so it cascades down the inside of the glass, resembling a horse’s neck.

Serving Suggestion

The Horse’s Neck is traditionally served in a highball glass. The tall, narrow shape showcases the lemon peel garnish and allows the carbonation of the ginger ale to remain lively.

The garnish is not just for show; the lemon peel adds a fragrant citrus note to the drink. To prepare the garnish, use a vegetable peeler or a knife to cut a long, thin spiral from a lemon, ensuring it’s long enough to hang over the rim and spiral inside the glass.

Elevating the Horse’s Neck

  • Chill Your Glass: Pre-chill the highball glass in the freezer to keep the cocktail colder for longer.
  • Quality Ingredients: Use a high-quality bourbon and a craft ginger ale for a more refined taste.
  • Homemade Ginger Ale: For an extra touch of freshness, consider making your own ginger ale with fresh ginger, sugar, water, and soda.

Horse's Neck Cocktail Served

Substitutions and Alternatives for the Horse’s Neck

If bourbon isn’t your spirit of choice, rye whiskey can be a suitable substitute, offering a spicier profile. For a non-alcoholic version, simply omit the bourbon for a refreshing ginger ale and lemon mocktail.

Similar cocktails include the Whiskey Ginger, which uses a shorter lemon garnish, and the Kentucky Mule, which adds lime juice and is served in a copper mug.

Add a Twist

  • Spiced Syrup: Add a homemade spiced syrup, such as cinnamon or cardamom, to introduce warm, aromatic flavors.
  • Herbal Notes: Muddle fresh herbs like mint or basil in the glass before adding ice for a herbal twist.
  • Bitters: A dash of aromatic bitters can add complexity and depth to the cocktail.

Preferred Liquors for the Horse’s Neck

While many bourbons can work well in a Horse’s Neck, brands like Buffalo Trace or Maker’s Mark are often recommended for their smooth and versatile flavor profiles.

For a more robust cocktail, consider a high-proof bourbon like Knob Creek, which can stand up to the sweetness of the ginger ale.

Similar Cocktails to the Horse’s Neck

  • Whiskey Ginger: A simpler version of the Horse’s Neck, without the elaborate lemon peel garnish.
  • Moscow Mule: Swaps bourbon for vodka and adds lime juice, served in a copper mug.
  • Dark ‘n’ Stormy: A rum-based alternative with ginger beer and lime, offering a tropical twist.

Food Pairings to go with the Horse’s Neck

The Horse’s Neck pairs well with savory appetizers like charcuterie or cheese platters. Its refreshing nature also complements spicy foods, such as buffalo wings or Asian-inspired dishes.

For a more unconventional pairing, try it with dark chocolate desserts. The bourbon’s sweetness and the ginger’s spice create a delightful contrast with the bitterness of the chocolate.

Horse’s Neck FAQs

Can I use ginger beer instead of ginger ale? Yes, ginger beer will give the cocktail a stronger ginger flavor and more spice.

Is it necessary to use a highball glass? While traditional, any tall glass will work. The important part is the space for ice and garnish.

How do I make the lemon peel spiral? Use a channel knife or vegetable peeler to cut a continuous strip around the lemon, creating a long spiral.

Can I make a Horse’s Neck in advance? It’s best made fresh, but you can pre-mix the bourbon and ginger ale and add ice and garnish when serving.

What’s the best way to chill the ingredients? Keep the bourbon and ginger ale in the refrigerator or freezer before making the cocktail.

Horse's Neck_001

Horse’s Neck

A classic cocktail with a refreshing blend of bourbon and ginger ale, garnished with a long spiral of lemon peel that gives it its distinctive 'horse's neck' appearance.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 160 kcal


  • Highball glass
  • Bar spoon


  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 6 oz Ginger Ale
  • 1 long spiral Lemon Peel 6-8 inches
  • Ice Cubes


  • Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Pour the bourbon over the ice.
  • Top with ginger ale.
  • Gently stir to mix.
  • Carefully drape the lemon peel over the rim of the glass so it spirals down inside to resemble a horse's neck.


For best results, ensure the bourbon and ginger ale are well chilled before use. Adjust the ginger ale to bourbon ratio according to taste preference.
Keyword bourbon, Classic Cocktail, Cocktail, Ginger Ale, Highball Glass, Horse's Neck, Lemon Peel, Refreshing, Spiral Garnish

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