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Issue 58 - Ahead by a neck

Whisky Magazine Issue 58
August 2006


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Ahead by a neck

Ian Wisniewski saddles up for a challenging cocktail

Preparing a Horse's Neck, by topping up a measure of bourbon with ginger ale (some recipes include an optional dash of Angostura Bitters) sounds simple enough. But then combining the ingredients is not the most demanding element of this cocktail.

What really distinguishes a Horse's Neck is the garnish, which even for experienced bartenders is one of the most challenging, and extravagant to prepare. For a start it takes an entire lemon (which needs to be organic to ensure it's unwaxed and hasn't been sprayed after harvesting).

As a certain skill is required to remove the zest, in a way that forms a neat band perhaps 1.5-2 centimetres wide, and which remains in one piece, having spare lemons is a sensible precaution.

Seeing the lemon spiral being prepared by a trained professional is part of the theatricality of the cocktail experience, starting at the top of the lemon and carefully working round, while also avoiding the pith which is a source of bitterness.

But that's merely stage one. Stage two is arranging the spiral in the glass so that it appears as an impressive feature, poised and evenly spaced all the way down to the bottom, in a ‘helter skelter' manner (rather than simply dangling around). And that's not easy.

One end of the lemon spiral is first positioned so that it hangs over the rim of the glass, and creates the impression of a horse's neck. The rest of the spiral's position within the glass is secured by feeding in ice cubes, which help to push the zest aga...

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