How to Make a Horse's Neck Cocktail

Horse's Neck Cocktail

The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios 

  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Serving: 1 serving
  • Yield: 1 cocktail

A simple and very refreshing cocktail, the Horse's Neck is a classic drink that you won't want to miss. While it's easy, there is a trick that gives this drink its signature look.

The key to a Horse's Neck is the lemon peel which swirls inside the glass, slowly infusing the cocktail as you drink it. The goal is to cut the longest lemon spiral you can and that can be a challenge. Yet, it is a good excuse to work on a basic bartending skill.

The drink itself is, quite simply, bourbon and ginger ale with bitters. Some people prefer brandy and you can also skip the booze and serve it as a mocktail—essentially creating a fancy ginger ale. No matter how you make it, the Horse's Neck is a great drink.


  • Garnish: lemon (long peel spiral)
  • 2 ounces ​bourbon
  • 3 ​ounces ​​ginger ale
  • 2 to 3 dashes bitters

Steps to Make It

  1. Drape the spiral of a lemon peel over the rim of a collins glass so it twists around inside.

  2. Secure one end of the peel over the lip of the glass.

  3. Fill the glass with ice cubes.

  4. Pour in the bourbon and top with ginger ale.

  5. Add a few dashes of bitters.

  6. Stir well.

Getting the Longest Lemon Peel

The most challenging cocktail garnish you can create is the citrus twist. With some practice and the right tools, it shouldn't take long to get a hang of the technique and produce clean twists that are 2 to 3 inches long.

However, for the Horse's Neck, the idea is to go even longer. A twist that is cut from the entire lemon is the ultimate goal. This will give you the length needed to reach the bottom of a tall glass and maximize the zest's infusion into the drink.

The best way to achieve this is to use a channel knife. Begin at one end of the lemon and, with a steady hand and fluid motion, work your way around the fruit until you reach the other end. If the peel breaks midway, use it and try again when making the next round. 

It's very likely that you will not get perfectly long spirals right away, so don't get frustrated. You will also sacrifice quite a few lemons in the process, but they can still be used for fresh juice. If you're determined and patient, the perfect spirals will come to you.

Create a Horse's Neck With a Kick

Put an interesting twist on this drink, and try the Horse's Neck With a Kick recipe. It includes everything found in the original recipe, but it switches from ginger ale to ginger beer.

This spicier option and the higher proof bourbon are where the "kick" comes from. It's a great drink as well—a bit like a whiskey Moscow Mule—and good for those times when you're feeling bold.

How Strong Is the Horse's Neck?

Every Horse's Neck is going to be a little different. You may choose a high-proof whiskey or use less soda and both of those changes will make the drink a little stronger. Yet, it is a relatively mild cocktail (perfect for happy hour) either way.

If we pour this drink with an 80-proof bourbon and about 6 ounces of ginger ale. The Horse's Neck would have an alcohol content around 9 percent ABV (18 proof).