No classic cocktail is more intertwined with its garnish than the Horse’s Neck and its horse’s neck. What the heck? Well, confusingly the drink and the garnish share the same name. Thus a Horse’s Neck is both a very long strip of citrus peel (in this case lemon) and/or a long drink containing ginger ale and a horse’s neck. So we’re clear now? Excellent. Let’s make a horse’s neck then. You’ll need a lemon* and a channel knife, which is the shiny implement at the bottom of the above still life. Simply cut a long spiral out of the lemon as smoothly as possible, this being best achieved by holding the tool still and turning the fruit. In this case I’d suggest doing this over the iced glass in order to harvest some of the fresh zesty lemon oil that sprays out abundantly during the process and is an essential component of the drink. Other drinks might benefit form a horse’s neck but the classic use is in a Horse’s Neck so we’d better have a look at where that came from and how to make one.
The Horse’s Neck is bit of a forgotten classic these days and I’d venture that’s because it got royally screwed up over the years. Originally a long drink consisting of brandy, ginger ale and bitters – along with a horse’s neck of course – I’m pretty certain that it was American prohibition that done for our four legged pal. Brandy was particularly unavailable during those dry(er) years but bourbon could still be had due to some of it being classified as “medicinal”. In those troubled times you had to work with what you could get. And by late prohibition bitters was another thing you couldn’t get. Therefore the Horses Neck which had only a few years earlier been a balanced mix of brandy (most likely cognac), ginger ale, aromatic bitters and a fair old dose of lemon oil had become just bourbon and ginger ale. Now I’ve got absolutely nothing against bourbon but I firmly believe the original recipe using brandy to be much tastier and yet, to this day, bourbon versions prevail. It’s a pretty common occurrence for more available spirits to get subbed for those more difficult to find at a given time; which is yet another reason that we should pay attention to cocktail history as the original recipes are very often – but not always – superior.
Cut a long strip of lemon peel over an iced Collins glass as described above.
Insert resultant horse’s neck into glass.
2oz/60ml Brandy (of choice but VS cognac is a good start**)
3 dashes of Angostura bitters.
3 or 4oz (90-120ml) of a good ginger ale.
Stir gently and serve.
Toast Equus ferus caballus.
*A horse’s neck can be cut from any citrus fruit but the default is lemon. If you have ninja level knife skills you could cut a broader version freehand.
**I used some Jaloviina Tammi Finnish brandy because why not?