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Cover: Shaken and stirred

28Jul 12

Horse´s Neck, the drink which came from a film

Horse´s NeckOne evening a few weeks ago, I sat on the couch at home and watched an independent film. The lead character was a Polish climber, Jerzy Kuckuzka, who told his story while seated in a pub in London. The whole idea was pretty bizarre, but what really struck me was the drink this guy was ordering: the Horse´s Neck. To be quite honest, I had never even heard of it but decided to investigate further. And this is the mix I want to share with you today.

A Horse´s Neck is an American cocktail that dates back to the 1890s. It started as a non-alcoholic mixture of ginger ale, ice and lemon peel. By the turn of the century, bartenders in Kentucky had a variation to the original, which included brandy –sometimes even bourbon- and which was ordered as a “Horse´s Neck with a kick, please”.

The main ingredient to a Horse´s Neck is brandy. It generally contains 35%-60% alcohol by volume and is typically taken as an after dinner drink. It is one of the strongest drinks around and great for when one feels cold and tired after a long winter´s day, hence the idea of a Polish climber drinking one after another.

Ginger ale is the other major component. Try sipping this cocktail with sugar-free gingerbread, which brings out the ginger flavour even more!

Horse´s Neck became popular in the Royal Navy in the 1960s, displacing Pink Gin as the officer´s signature drink. A reference to this is made in the film Yangtse Incident, in which a naval officer is shown drinking a Horse´s Neck. Strangely enough, it is also ordered in the 1935 classic Top Hat.

A few days after watching the film, I invited some friends over and made Horse´s Necks for everyone. To be quite honest, we had a great evening and have all since become big fans of the cocktail.

Horse´s Neck, the drink which came from a film
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
A Horse´s Neck is an American cocktail that dates back to the 1890s
  • 4cl brandy
  • 11cl ginger ale
  • Dash of Angostura bitter (optional)
  1. Pour brandy and ginger ale directly into an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes.
  2. Garnish with lemon zest.
  3. If required, add dashes of Angostura bitter.


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  1. Ginger ale is pretty tasty. I always take it when I have a stomachache.

  2. Have you tried it with grenadine?


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