The Horse’s Neck Is A Quick, Easy Winner For National Cocktail Day

The Horse’s Neck is a go-to highball, especially as the weather starts to heat up. With it being National Cocktail Day, it’s also a very easy cocktail to have in your arsenal. There are no syrups to make, and no real skills in shaking or stirring.

This is about building a drink in the glass and enjoying it immediately. Period.

The Horse’s Neck is a 19th-century American classic that’s associated with the Kentucky Derby (hence the name) and used to be made with brandy. Now, it’s usually made with bourbon or rye. I’m making mine with Irish whiskey. Why? With it being March, it felt appropriate. Also, Irish whiskey has a lightness to it that suits this type of soda-pop-meets-spicy-bitters highball alchemy.

That’s all you really need to know. If you have a glass and a knife to peel some lemon rind, you can make this right now in about 15 seconds. Let’s get mixing!

Horse’s Neck

Zach Johnston


  • 2-oz. Irish whiskey
  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 4-oz. ginger ale
  • Lemon peel
  • Ice

Again, I’m using Irish whiskey here because of the season. I usually order this with a high-rye bourbon like Old Grand-Dad or just a straight-up MGP rye like Bulleit Rye. What I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to use the bourbon, rye, or Irish whiskey you have on your shelf (though I would steer clear of a peaty malt).

I like to use classic Schweppes Ginger Ale. You know what you’re getting. You can use bespoke local ginger ale, sure. That’ll add a nice element. But it does have to be ginger ale and not ginger beer.

Lastly, you really have to spritz this drink with those lemon oils from the peel (here’s a very short and simple video to help). That’s what takes the drink from “it’s not without its charm” to “ah, that’s a good goddamn cocktail.”

Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Collins glass
  • Fruit peeler
  • Bar spoon
  • Jigger
Zach Johnston


  • Fill the glass with ice (pre-chill the glass — I forgot to do that for the photos and regretted it immediately).
  • Add in the whiskey and bitters.
  • Top with ginger ale and stir gently, making sure the Angostura is fully blended into the drink.
  • Spritz the lemon oils from the peel over the drink and rub the peel around the glass.
  • Drop the peel into the drink.
  • Serve.

Bottom Line:

Zach Johnston

This is a super refreshing cocktail. The Roe and Co. Irish whiskey is a nice and light base that reminds you whiskey is there without overwhelming you. The bitters add a nice, rounded bite of botanicals and velvet texture. The ginger ale is also amped up by the bitters, with a bit more of a spicy bite but still, obviously, sweet.

The lemon oils are what ties everything together. The brightness really helps bring out the spicy notes while adding in that x-factor, making it pop.

In the end, this is a very easy drink to make. It’s bright, a little spicy, full of whiskey, and highly crushable. What more could you want in the early days of spring?