Horse's Neck Cocktail Drink

Horse’s Neck

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

If you’re looking for a classic cocktail, this Horse’s Neck recipe has your back! With simple ingredients and an easy-to-make drink approach, this cocktail always promises a delightful sip.

Horse’s Neck Recipe

Quench your thirst with this classic Horse's Neck recipe! Crafted with brandy, ginger ale, and a twist of lemon, this effervescent cocktail is a sublime choice for any gathering.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

208 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Brandy
  • Ginger ale, to top up
  • Long lemon twist, for garnish and added flavor
  • Ice cubes

Equipment

  • Highball Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Brandy: Pour 2 oz Brandy over the ice.
  • Top with Ginger Ale: Fill the rest of the glass with ginger ale,
  • Quick Stir: Give a couple of stirs to your mixture allowing the fizz to mingle with the brandy.
  • Garnish: Add a long lemon twist to your highball glass.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Brandy: I've used bourbon instead of brandy, which gives the drink a sweeter and oakier profile. If you're feeling adventurous, try using a dark rum. It lends a rich, caramel depth to the Horse’s Neck.
  • Ginger Ale: If ginger ale isn't your thing or you've run out, ginger beer offers a spicier kick. I've also used tonic water for a more bitter twist, but you might want to add a splash of simple syrup or a squeeze of lemon to brighten it up.

Making a Pitcher of Horse’s Neck:

  • Scale: For a pitcher that serves 8, you'll want 16 oz of brandy. Adjust the ginger ale to top up each glass.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the brandy and ginger ale. Don't stir too much to maintain the fizz.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into ice-filled highball glasses, garnish with a long lemon twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Brandy Substitute: Opt for a non-alcoholic brandy substitute. Several brands are available that capture the essence of brandy without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use this non-alcoholic substitute instead of regular brandy and follow the original steps to enjoy a non-alcoholic Horse’s Neck.

Making it Vegan:

The standard Horse’s Neck recipe is inherently vegan, containing no animal-derived ingredients. However, always check the brand of ginger ale or any other substitutes you might be using to ensure there are no hidden animal derivatives. Some alcoholic beverages use animal products in the filtering process, so it's always a good idea to check if your chosen brand is vegan-friendly.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
208
% Daily Value*
Sodium
 
16
mg
1
%
Carbohydrates
 
20
g
7
%
Sugar
 
20
g
22
%
Potassium
 
3
mg
0
%
Calcium
 
7
mg
1
%
Iron
 
0.4
mg
2
%

 

Horse's Neck Cocktail Drink

Horse’s Neck Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Quench your thirst with this classic Horse's Neck recipe! Crafted with brandy, ginger ale, and a twist of lemon, this effervescent cocktail is a sublime choice for any gathering.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 208

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Brandy
  • Ginger ale - to top up
  • Long lemon twist - for garnish and added flavor
  • Ice cubes

Equipment

  • Highball Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Brandy: Pour 2 oz Brandy over the ice.
  • Top with Ginger Ale: Fill the rest of the glass with ginger ale,
  • Quick Stir: Give a couple of stirs to your mixture allowing the fizz to mingle with the brandy.
  • Garnish: Add a long lemon twist to your highball glass.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Brandy: I've used bourbon instead of brandy, which gives the drink a sweeter and oakier profile. If you're feeling adventurous, try using a dark rum. It lends a rich, caramel depth to the Horse’s Neck.
  • Ginger Ale: If ginger ale isn't your thing or you've run out, ginger beer offers a spicier kick. I've also used tonic water for a more bitter twist, but you might want to add a splash of simple syrup or a squeeze of lemon to brighten it up.

Making a Pitcher of Horse’s Neck:

  • Scale: For a pitcher that serves 8, you'll want 16 oz of brandy. Adjust the ginger ale to top up each glass.
  • Mix: In a large pitcher, combine the brandy and ginger ale. Don't stir too much to maintain the fizz.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into ice-filled highball glasses, garnish with a long lemon twist, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Brandy Substitute: Opt for a non-alcoholic brandy substitute. Several brands are available that capture the essence of brandy without the alcohol.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use this non-alcoholic substitute instead of regular brandy and follow the original steps to enjoy a non-alcoholic Horse’s Neck.

Making it Vegan:

The standard Horse’s Neck recipe is inherently vegan, containing no animal-derived ingredients. However, always check the brand of ginger ale or any other substitutes you might be using to ensure there are no hidden animal derivatives. Some alcoholic beverages use animal products in the filtering process, so it's always a good idea to check if your chosen brand is vegan-friendly.

What is a Horse’s Neck?

Horse’s Neck is a cocktail that blends the warmth of brandy with the zest of ginger ale and a twist of lemon, and it’s recognized as an official International Bartenders Association (IBA) cocktail. Historically, its unique name likely comes from the long spiral lemon garnish that drapes over the edge of the glass, resembling the curve of a horse’s neck. Despite its intriguing name and presentation, you don’t need to be a bartender to appreciate its balanced flavors. This classic Horse’s Neck recipe proves that sometimes simplicity speaks volumes in cocktails.

A side shot of an Horse's Neck cocktail in highball glass on a black stone coaster placed on a orange cloth on a white table surrounded by ginger pieces, orange pieces, a jigger, and a bar spoon.

What is a Horse’s Neck made of – The ingredients

The ingredients list for a classic Horse’s Neck includes:

  • Brandy: A distilled wine that provides the warm, smooth base of the cocktail.
  • Ginger Ale: A carbonated soft drink that adds effervescence and a spicy-sweet flavor.
  • Lemon Twist: A long spiral garnish that imparts a zesty citrus note and enhances the visual appeal.

Brandy and Ginger Ale laid out on a white bar table.

How do you make a Horse’s Neck?

Forge your own Horse’s Neck masterpiece with our clear, step-by-step guidance:

1
<p>Fill the glass with ice cubes to keep the drink chilled and to dilute the brandy slightly.</p>

Fill the glass with ice cubes to keep the drink chilled and to dilute the brandy slightly.

2
<p>Pour your desired amount of brandy over the ice, providing the cocktail with its warm and smooth base.</p>

Pour your desired amount of brandy over the ice, providing the cocktail with its warm and smooth base.

3
<p>Top up the rest of the glass with ginger ale, introducing that spicy-sweet effervescence.</p>

Top up the rest of the glass with ginger ale, introducing that spicy-sweet effervescence.

4
<p>Give the mixture a gentle stir to blend the ingredients, ensuring the flavors meld together.</p>

Give the mixture a gentle stir to blend the ingredients, ensuring the flavors meld together.

5
<p>Squeeze the lemon peel over the glass.</p>

Squeeze the lemon peel over the glass.

6
<p>Drop the long lemon twist into the highball glass for aroma and garnish.</p>

Drop the long lemon twist into the highball glass for aroma and garnish.

7
<p>Enjoy your Horse's Neck cocktail!</p>

Enjoy your Horse's Neck cocktail!

Can I use Gin, Vodka, or Rum instead of Bourbon for a Horse’s Neck?

Diversifying the spirit in your Horse’s Neck can lead to exciting flavor profiles. If you’re considering gin, brands like Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire impart a botanical twist, with juniper and herbaceous notes playing against the ginger ale. For a more neutral base, vodka works wonders. Brands such as Absolut or Grey Goose will keep the drink smooth without overshadowing the other ingredients. If you’re keen on adding a touch of the tropics, rum, especially brands like Bacardi or Mount Gay, introduces a caramel and slightly fruity undertone. Out of these options, I have a soft spot for Mount Gay rum; its rich history and balanced flavor profile give the Horse’s Neck a delightful Caribbean flair.

Best Ginger Ale for a Horse’s Neck

Choosing the right ginger ale for your Horse’s Neck can elevate the drink from good to outstanding. With its crisp carbonation and balanced ginger kick, Schweppes has been a go-to for many. Another contender is Canada Dry; its less-sweet profile and pronounced ginger taste pairs brilliantly with brandy. However, I’d nudge you towards Fever-Tree for a truly memorable Horse’s Neck experience. Their Premium Ginger Ale boasts natural ingredients and a nuanced ginger flavor that complements the spirit, making every sip a harmonious blend of warmth and zest.

An Horse's Neck cocktail, shot from above, in highball glass on a black stone coaster placed on a orange cloth on a white table surrounded by ginger pieces, and orange pieces.

Variations

  • Whiskey Horse’s Neck: This rendition swaps the brandy base for whisky, introducing a smooth, slightly grainy character. The different types of chosen Whiskey will determine the flavors involved.
  • Presbyterian: This blend combines scotch, bourbon or rye with ginger ale and soda water, creating a layered profile. The bourbon’s richness is balanced by the effervescence of the soda, and the ginger ale adds a spicy sweetness, all enhanced by the zesty twist of lemon peel.
  • Major Smythe: Taking inspiration from a Jamaican favorite, this mix features Skipper Dark Rum with ginger ale, accented by a long twist of lime peel. The result is a drink that’s a tad lighter than a Dark & Stormy, thanks to the ginger ale’s lighter touch compared to ginger beer. The Skipper Rum imparts a deep, molasses-like sweetness, which is cleverly offset by the fresh lime, preventing the combination from becoming overly rich.

A side shot of an Horse's Neck cocktail in highball glass on a black stone coaster placed on a orange cloth on a white table surrounded by ginger pieces, orange pieces, and a jigger.

History and Origin

The Horse’s Neck originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, originally starting as a non-alcoholic beverage. Initially, the drink consisted only of ginger ale with a long lemon peel garnish. The name “Horse’s Neck” likely came from the distinctive long spiral lemon garnish that dangled over the edge of the glass, resembling a horse’s neck.

As time progressed, alcohol enthusiasts started introducing a spirit to the mix. By the early 20th century, bourbon and brandy became popular additions, transforming the Horse’s Neck into the spirited cocktail known today.

This cocktail gained significant traction among British naval officers during the mid-20th century. The British Royal Navy even adopted the brandy version as a standard drink, further propelling its popularity.

Over the years, the Horse’s Neck maintained its place in the cocktail realm due to its simple ingredients and the harmonious blend of flavors.

An Horse's Neck cocktail, shot from above, in highball glass on white marmol table, surrounded by a ginger ale bottle and a Brandy bottle.

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FAQ

How many calories are in a Horse's Neck?
A standard version has approximately 150-200 calories, depending on the brand of ingredients and exact measurements.
How strong is a Horse's Neck?
The strength varies based on the brandy used. Typically, the ABV can range from 10% to 20%, translating to 20 to 40 proof.
What alcohol is used in a Horse's Neck?
The primary alcohol is brandy.
In which type of glass is a Horse's Neck served?
Traditionally, the drink is served in a highball glass.
What does a Horse's Neck taste like?
It offers a harmonious blend of the warmth from the brandy, the spicy-sweet effervescence of ginger ale, and a zesty touch from the lemon.
What's the ratio of ingredients in a Horse's Neck?
The general ratio is 2 oz of brandy topped with ginger ale in a highball glass.
How is the Horse's Neck served regarding ice and presentation?
The drink is usually served over ice, with the lemon twist draped over the edge of the glass.

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