The 12 Weirdest Cocktail Names

What are you drinking?

'Tis the season for holiday festivities, and what better way to celebrate and reconnect with family than a good, cleverly-named cocktail. Here are just a few of our favorites (it was hard to choose). Some are considered classics. Others just make you wonder how many of the cocktails the person drank before they named the drink.

Salty dog

This classic consists of gin or vodka and grapefruit juice in a salt-rimmed glass. The salt-rimmed glass explains the salty part, but what about the dog? Turns out the salty dog is basically a greyhound (vodka and grapefruit juice) with a salted rim.

Cold duck

A cold duck is a mix of dry white wine, champagne, lemon juice, and sugar. So, why a cold duck? The answer to that is a thrilling tale of language evolution.

This drink comes from Bavaria (the southeastern region of Germany). Bavarians didn't want to waste those last bits of wine and champagne left in the bottle, so they combined them into one creative cocktail. It was originally called kalte ende (German for “cold end”). Over time, ende morphed into ente (“duck”) either because it was more natural to say or because someone called it that ironically and it caught on. That part is lost to history.

Horse's neck

This American drink comes to us from the early 1900s. It’s a mixture of whiskey, ginger ale, and ice, garnished with a nice, long spiral of lemon peel. Some of the earliest mentions of this drink refer to it as a horse’s collar instead of horse's neck (Possibly because of the lemon peel?), but there’s no definitive explanation for either name.

Moosemilk

No, a moosemilk does not (necessarily) contain milk from a moose.

This classic is a mix of whiskey or rum and milk (sometimes with additional ingredients like maple syrup, heavy whipping cream, and eggs). It tends to be enjoyed around the holidays (kind of like eggnog), but it’s tough to say exactly how it came to be. The one thing that seems agreed upon is that the drink was born in Canada—a land known for its majestic and iconic moose.

Moscow mule

Classic, beloved, and trendy, with a very bizarre name. Since the drink is made up of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice (served up in an Instagram-able copper mug), it’s easy to tell where the Moscow part comes in . . . Russia and vodka, almost interchangeable terms.

In the 1940s, when the drink came into being, vodka wasn’t that popular in the U.S., though. Americans just hadn’t developed a taste for it yet. There are a few differing apocryphal stories, but in the end, it turned out that vodka fit really well with ginger beer. The ginger gave the drink a nice “kick”—hence the mule.

Shandygaff

The shandygaff is half ginger beer and half regular beer (usually an ale). Legend has it that the drink’s name came from England in the mid- to late- 1800s. Some sources say that at the time, there was a British slang phrase—shant of gatter—which basically meant either “a serving of beer” or “a serving of pub water.”

Eventually, the pub standard developed into something beloved by both the upper and working classes; it was even mentioned in literature alongside stylish drinks like the sherry cobbler.

Swizzle

This drink comes from Barbados and is made of West Indian rum, lime juice, crushed ice, and sugar. Most importantly, it’s mixed in a very specific way (swizzled) with a swizzle stick. Swizzle sticks are twigs from a certain tree native to the Caribbean.

To swizzle the drink, you insert the swizzle stick into the cocktail, and spin it rapidly between your hands, creating a layer of frost on the outside of the glass. An added bonus is that the stick leaves behind a distinct bitter/spicy flavor.

Syllabub

This drink dates back as far as 1530 and it is made of milk or cream, which is then sweetened, flavored, and mixed with wine or cider. As for the name, the sylla- part comes from Sille, a region of France that made wine. Bub was Elizabethan slang for bubbly drink.

And, the Elizabethans were serious about those bubbles. One popular way to get that nice, perfectly frothed milk was to spray it directly from a cow’s udder into the wine. Fresh! Anyway, Sille bub eventually became syllabub, they found a more sanitary way to froth milk, and the rest is history.

Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry were the names of the principal characters in Pierce Egan’s 1821 book Life in London. One of its many origin stories involves Egan drumming up publicity for the book by inventing the drink. Other versions give the drink deep roots in the American Midwest.

Wherever it came from, it’s now considered a regional staple for many Midwestern Christmas celebrations, and it is typically served in special “Tom and Jerry” bowls. This holiday drink is made of rum, warm water or milk, beaten eggs, spices, and sugar. It even sounds like Christmas.

Zombie

This tropical drink is typically made with several types of rum, citrus juice, and often an apricot liqueur. The legend of this drink’s origin is that in 1934, Don the Beachcomber (a famous bartender considered the father of tiki restaurants, bars, and nightclubs) created the drink to help out a hungover customer. The customer claimed, “I felt like the living dead—it made a zombie out of me.”

Calgary redeye

This Canadian concoction is made of half beer and half tomato juice. Sometimes, it’s made with clamato juice (like the Caesar, another Canadian favorite). It’s believed to have been created in Calgary, but there’s no exact origin story.

Redeye is probably a reference to color, but the phrase is also slang for cheap, strong whiskey. Seems like it might be a popular drink on a late-night cross-country flight, as well.

Bullshot

The bullshot is not a shot, as it turns out. This 1960s drink—more closely related to the Bloody Mary than, well, anything—is typically made of vodka, beef bouillon or consommé, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce. It’s also usually prepared in a pan. You know, for those days when you want a warm, steak-flavored cocktail.

No judgment, really. This drink was super popular among Broadway stars, fashion models, and bestselling writers from the 1960s to the 1980s. Was it mass curiosity, was it a food trend run wild, or was the drink actually delicious? Dare you to try one because we would love to know!

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