We Found the Perfect Signature Cocktail for Every State
Travel across the U.S.A.—in your drinking glass! We found the signature cocktail of every state, from well-known historic drinks to tipples known only by the locals. Cheers!
Alabama: The Yellowhammer
In Tuscaloosa, football is kind of a big deal. When going to cheer on the Crimson Tide, fans sip on the Yellowhammer cocktail, a sweet drink invented in a bar close to the stadium. Named for the bright yellow state bird, the drink is fruity and delicious, made with pineapple and orange juice, Malibu, rum, and vodka. Get the recipe. Want more insider intel? Here are 22 things your bartender won’t tell you.
Alaska: The Alaska
In 1898, a gold rush sent prospectors northward, to the then-territory of Alaska, in search of riches. Though The Alaska wasn’t invented in the state—the miners likely would have sipped whiskey—the cocktail pays homage to the warm glow of gold. Mixed with gin and Yellow Chartreuse, a dash of orange bitters, and lemon, the cocktail is a sunny shade that would be welcome during any long winter. Up next: Learn why Grandma’s favorite summer drink deserves a comeback.
Arizona: Tequila Sunrise
When a guest lounging at the posh Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix asked bartender Gene Sulit for a surprise, Sulit poured him a Tequila Sunrise: a concoction of crème de cassis, tequila, lime and soda water. The dense cassis sinks to the bottom of the glass, and the lighter ingredients rise above, making a sunrise-in-a-glass. Modern iterations of the drink usually use grenadine rather than the original cassis, and orange juice in place of the lime. Get our Test Kitchen-approved recipe here.
Think your signature cocktail deserves to be best-in-show? Submit your recipe to our Test Kitchen today.
Arkansas: Bloody Mary
In Arkansas, tomatoes are a booming crop and a celebrated summer fruit; the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival has run for over 60 years. It feels right to celebrate with a Bloody Mary. This popular morning sipper mixes tomato juice with vodka, lemon, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and an array of garnishes, from celery stalks to lemons. Some Arkansas bars add pickle juice, pickled green beans, olives, and pepperoncini to the adaptable recipe. If you can’t make the trip to The Natural State, here are the best Bloody Mary bars across the country.
California: Moscow Mule
In recent years, the Moscow Mule and its accompanying copper mug have surged in popularity in bars and homes across the country. (Let us show you how to make it!) The relatively simple beverage is fizzy with ginger ale, bracing with vodka, and lifted with a squeeze of lime. Rumor has it the drink was invented at Hollywood’s Cock’n’Bull pub in 1941, when three struggling entrepreneurs decided to make a cocktail using their products: One was heiress to a copper mine, another owned the struggling Smirnoff distillery, and the third had developed his own brand of ginger beer. The rest is history.
Colorado: Colorado Bulldog
Coffee shops thrive in snowy Colorado, so it’s no surprise that a popular local cocktail uses coffee liqueur as a base. As in a White Russian, the Bulldog combines the liqueur with vodka and tops with cream—but in a twist, a pour of cola tops off the drink. The soda and cream fizz up dramatically, and the resulting concoction is pleasantly effervescent and sweet, sort of like a root beer float. Get the recipe at Boulder Locavore.
Up next: Don’t miss these ice cream drinks that are equal parts frosty and boozy.
Connecticut: The Yale Cocktail
Many Ivy League schools boast signature cocktails. The Yale, which dates back to the early 20th century, is a bit of an odd duck. Rather violet in hue, the drink blends dry gin, Crème Yvette, maraschino liqueur, dry vermouth, and orange bitters. Pleasantly floral and sweet, the drink may go down a bit too easily. Get the full recipe from Karen’s Kitchen Stories. Prefer something simple? We’ve rounded up 21 easy mixed drinks anyone can master.
Delaware: Du Pont Hotel Cocktail
Opened in 1913, Wilmington’s Hotel du Pont was intended to be the beautiful hotel in the country. Its opening week alone brought 25,000 visitors to gape at the Renaissance-style building. The hotel’s namesake cocktail is still worth sipping today. The ingredients are simple and classic: brandy, dry sherry, Angostura bitters, and an orange twist.
Have brandy to spare? Mix it with honey to make our popular recipe for Brandy-Glazed Carrots.
Florida: Rum Runner
Basically a beach vacation in a glass, the Rum Runner is a potent combination of banana liqueur, rum, brandy, and grenadine. The drink is rumored to originate in the Florida Keys in 1971, when the owner of the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar challenged his bartender to make a drink from the excess booze in storage.
Georgia: Chatham Artillery Punch
Watch out: this punch is seriously potent. According to the Bitter Southerner, it dates back to a military celebration in mid-1800s Savannah. The original recipe calls for lemon juice, plus a full bottle each of cognac, bourbon, and Jamaican-style rum. Finish with four bottles of Champagne (and chase with several glasses of ice water!) Don’t miss 40 more old-fashioned Southern foods you’ll love.
Hawaii: Piña Colada
The quintessential tropical cocktail, a piña colada mixes Hawaiian fruits pineapple and coconut with rum and lime juice for an all-too-drinkable frozen cocktail that’s best enjoyed on a sunny beach. Get the recipe here.
Idaho: Whiskey Sour
Idahoans love their whiskey sours, according to a Versus Reviews study of Google search data by state, and the state’s top-selling booze by volume is the Canadian whiskey Black Velvet. A good whiskey’s important. since the drink only contains whiskey, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Here’s how to make it at home.
Illinois: Salty Dog
In the summer of 1952, Chicago hosted both the Democratic and Republican Conventions. In the midst of the fray, entertainer George Jessel supposedly invented the Salty Dog cocktail at the Ambassador East Hotel’s famous Pump Room. A potent mix of vodka and grapefruit juice, plus a salted rim, the drink was fortifying—and extremely alcoholic. Get the recipe.
Indiana: Hoosier Heritage
In 2015, IndyStar.com hosted a contest to find Indiana’s best cocktail. The popular vote named the Hoosier Heritage the winner. Calling for Knob Creek rye, apple cider, maple syrup, and lemon juice, the drink is deliciously autumnal, and best sipped while watching a football game on a chilly October night. Here are 17 more ways to upgrade your apple cider.
Iowa: Blue Water Margarita
Iowa’s West Okoboji Lake is one of only four naturally blue lakes in the world. Local watering hole Minerva’s Restaurant and Bar salutes the lake with their blue water margarita. Like the classic marg, the cocktail blends tequila, sweet-and-sour, Cointreau, and lime, and adds a dash of Blue Caracao for a stunning color. Get our copycat recipe that comes pretty close to the real deal.
Kansas: The Amelia Earhart
Kansas-born Earhart made aviation history, and her namesake cocktail is a fruity, sweet, summery sipper. The hero ingredients? Blackberries muddled with sugar, fresh lemon juice, and elderberry-flavored St. Germaine liqueur. Just add vodka and a mint garnish, and enjoy on the porch swing. While you’re at it, check out these other recipes from Kansas.
Kentucky: Mint Julep
The mint julep is over 200 years old, though it’s only been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938. The cocktail calls for just three ingredients—bourbon, sugar syrup, and fresh mint—so the proportions are crucial. A perfect julep is an unbeatably refreshing drink for a hot day, at the races or in the backyard. Find more classic Derby recipes right here.
One of the oldest drinks in the country, the Sazerac is steeped in New Orleans history. Early recipes called for a very specific cognac, Sazerac de Forge et Fils, imported to the Big Easy since the 1800s. A local apothecary produced Peychaud’s bitters, then considered a health tonic. Over time, the cocktail recipe grew more layered and complex, eventually including absinthe, sugar, and rye in place of the cognac. Learn more about the Big Easy’s drink of choice.
Maine: Moxie Beach Bum
If you live outside New England, you may never have heard of Moxie, a soda pop dating back to the 1800s, when it was sold as a cure-all. Named the official state drink of Maine in 2005, the cult-favorite soda has a love-it-or-hate-it flavor described as bitter, rusty, or battery-like, thanks to a base of gentian root. Mix Moxie Hunk o’ Lime with a dash of rum for a twist on a rum-and-Coke.
Maryland: Diamondback Cocktail
The delicious three-ingredient Diamondback cocktail was invented in the Diamondback Lounge of the Lord Baltimore Hotel, an impressive French Renaissance-style structure built in 1928. A blend of rye whiskey, Applejack, and Yellow Chartreuse, the “snappy” drink is probably named for the diamondback turtle, which is native to the Chesapeake Bay region and which appeared (in cartoon form) on the Diamondback Lounge’s advertisements in the 1950s. Next up: Read up on the best recipes from Maryland.
Massachusetts: The Boston Flip
Flips are a very old category of cocktail, one made rich and creamy with the addition of a raw egg, shaken until frothy. (Actually, the name “flip” comes from the method of flipping the drink from container to container to shake it.) The Boston Flip calls for bourbon or rye, Madeira, sugar, and an egg. Here are 10 more classic cocktails you should know.
Michigan: Detroit Old Fashioned
Love a classic old fashioned? Just add a dash of Vernons, a ginger ale invented in Detroit in 1866, to the glass to make it a Detroit Old Fashioned. Missing Michigan? Try these local recipes.
Minnesota: The Bootleg
Like many cocktails, the Bootleg’s origins lie around Prohibition. The drink was invented at a hotel near Lake Minnetonka, where the city’s upper crust traveled for summer outings. Supposedly enjoyed by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Al Capone, the Bootleg is similar to a mojito, but with a lemonade twist. The ingredient list includes a healthy sprinkle of mint leaves, an herbal jolt of gin, lots of fresh lime, and a tangy-sweet lemon-agave syrup. Find the full recipe at Cookie & Kate. Have a bumper crop of mint? Here are 63 ways to use it.
Mississippi: Milk Punch
A Southern take on eggnog, milk punch is usually made with milk or half-and-half, simple syrup, vanilla, and brandy, bourbon, or rum. The punch originated on the east coast in the colonial era, when milk and brandy were considered medicinal. It even appeared in one of the oldest cocktail guides, the 1862 tome How to Mix Drinks. Get more punch recipes for your next party.
Missouri: Golden Glow
This classic cocktail was served at a celebration of the repeal of Prohibition at the New Hotel Jefferson’s posh Club Continental. The distinctive bright yellow drink is a potent potion of bourbon, Jamaican rum, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, and a drop of grenadine. Get 18 other classic recipes from Missouri.
Montana: Jack and Coke
The bestselling booze in Montana? Jack Daniels whiskey. The secret to a good one? Lots of ice. And, if you don’t like drinks too sweet, try it with diet Coke. Find more 2-ingredient cocktails here.
Nebraska: Kool-Aid Cocktail
Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings, Nebraska in 1927, when inventor Edwin Perkins found a way to dehydrate fruit juice concentrate. The fruity, super-sweet drink mixes well with liquor…try tropical punch flavor with a dash of rum and a cherry garnish. Surprised? Here are 21 other regional favorites you’ve never heard of.
Nevada: Scotch Old Fashioned
Famed Vegas crooner Dean Martin was known for his love of Scotch old fashioneds. The drink combines a healthy pour of scotch, a dash of bitters muddled with sugar, and orange and cherry fruits.
New Hampshire: Apple in the Dark
Another cocktail with university ties, the Apple in the Dark was invented at the historic Hanover Inn Dartmouth. It’s similar to an old fashioned, but with an autumnal taste thanks to apple-infused Scotch and pine-flavored bitters. Find the full recipe.
New Jersey: The Jersey Devil
According to an old Garden State ghost story, one stormy night in the 1700s, a woman gave birth to an infant she described as the devil, with hooves, a goat’s head and bat wings. Though the creature flew out the chimney, legend says he continues to haunt the Pine Barrens area even today. The bright red cocktail named for the monster mixes applejack (once known as “Jersey lightning”), triple sec and cranberry juice. Find more great food from the Garden State.
New Mexico: Chimayó
This enduringly popular cocktail stars tequila in an unusual way: as a sweet rather than sour concoction. Created in 1965 at the Rancho de Chimayó in New Mexico, the cocktail pairs gold tequila, apple juice, fresh lemon juice, and Crème de Cassis. Take a closer look at the recipe.
New York: Manhattan
So many cocktails were invented in New York City; unsurprisingly, the city is a magnet for talented bartenders and those who enjoy strong beverages. That said, we tip our hats to the cocktail named for the city’s glitziest borough, the Manhattan. Simple, potent, delicious, the recipe calls for sweet vermouth, rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, a twist of orange, and a maraschino cherry. Get our recipe here.
North Carolina: The Cherry Bounce
The Cherry Bounce dates back to the 1600s and is reputed to have been one of George Washington’s favorite tipples. Since 1769, denizens of Raleigh have imbibed the sweet sipper, which contains brandy or bourbon, cherries, and sugar. The trick? The fruit and sugar ferment together to form a rich syrup; then booze is added and left to stew longer, until a potent brew forms. Not even a mouthful of false teeth could keep George Washington from these favorite foods.
North Dakota: Smith & Kearns
During North Dakota’s 1950s oil boom, oil men Wendell Smith and James Curren, regularly stopped by the Blue Blazer Lounge in Bismarck. One night, tired of the usual whiskey, they asked their bartender for something “restorative.” He poured a sweet, fizzy, chocolate-tinged cocktail made with creme de cacao, cream, and soda water. Over time, the cocktail became popular across the country, and Curran morphed into “Kearns.” Whatever you call it, it’s delicious. Up next: Try our 50 most decadent chocolate desserts.
Ohio: Boozy Buckeye
Chocolatey, peanut buttery buckeyes are Ohio’s official dessert. This boozy take mimics the decadent flavor. Mix hot cocoa mix with Bailey’s and a spoonful of melted peanut butter. Delicious! Before you start sipping, check out the traditional Buckeye recipe.
Oklahoma: The Roy Rogers
Roy Rogers, “The King of the Cowboys,” was married at the Flying L Ranch in Davis, Oklahoma, and filmed popular flicks like “Home in Oklahoma” in the state. Rogers was said to be a teetotaler, spurring the invention of an alcohol-free Roy Rogers drink, made with grenadine, Cola, and a Maraschino cherry. Get 10 more recipes inspired by America’s most-loved cowboys.
Oregon: Spanish Coffee
The oldest restaurant in Portland, Oregon, Huber’s Cafe, claims to sell more Kahlua than any other independent restaurant in the country. Where do they pour it? Into their famous Spanish coffee recipe: a fiery concoction that’s as much a show as it is a drink. Rum and triple sec are poured into a sugar-rimmed glass and set aflame tableside by an expert bartender. After the flames caramelize the sugar, they’re extinguished with a dash of Kahlua. Hot coffee and whipped cream finish the over-the-top drink. Get our Test Kitchen’s simplified version here.
Pennsylvania: Fish House Punch
In 1732, the Schuylkill Fishing Company of Pennsylvania—informally known as the Fish House—was founded. Their signature punch, a potent bowl of rum, brandy, peach brandy, and lemon, may be the oldest punch in the English-speaking world. Get the recipe from Alexandra’s Kitchen. Next up: Try these sweet rum recipes.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Red Cocktail
The state bird of Rhode Island is the Rhode Island Red, a rather pretty chicken with thick, auburn feathers. The cocktail that shares its name is reddish pink, and it’s a sophisticated sipper with tequila, Chambord, lemon juice, agave syrup, orange bitters, and ginger beer. Top with raspberries and fresh mint for a summery drink. Not your style? Try one of our favorite spiked lemonade recipes instead.
South Carolina: Gin Fizz
With over 160 bars (not counting restaurants with bars), Charleston is a great town for cocktails. Tour company Bull Dog Tours recommends ordering a classic gin fizz while you’re in town. Labor-intensive but oh-so delicious, the gin fizz must be shaken for up to 12 minutes in order to create that fluffy, ethereal froth of egg whites atop the drink. Discover more famous cocktails from around the country.
South Dakota: The Roosevelt
Raise a drink to that iconic national landmark, Mount Rushmore. The Roosevelt is strong and bold: dark rum, dry Vermouth, fresh orange juice, and sugar—shaken, strained, and poured. Find more wonderful recipes from South Dakota.
Tennessee: Lynchburg Lemonade
Lynchburg, Tennessee is the home of the Jack Daniel’s distillery, and this cocktail celebrates the city and the famous whiskey. The refresher contains Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey, triple sec, lemon juice or sour mix, and lemon-lime soda. Did you know that whiskey tastings were once banned in Tennessee? Learn about the weirdest wine and liquor laws from across the country.
The traditional margarita dates back to the ’30s, when cocktail lore has it that a bartender invented it to impress Rita Hayward. (Get our best tips for making one at home today!) What transformed the cocktail from a west coast beverage to one of the most popular cocktails in the country? Mario Martinez’s invention of the frozen margarita machine in Dallas in 1971, propelling both the frosty tequila drink and Tex-Mex food in general, into popular culture.
Utah: Shirley Temple
Utah is known for some of the strictest liquor laws in the US, from restrictions on alcohol levels of tap beers to limits on the amount of booze that can be poured into a cocktail. The sweet Shirley Temple is a nod to a delicious cocktail alternative, no booze necessary. Learn more about the surprising origins of your most beloved food.
Vermont: Old Vermont
Vermont produces about 47% of the maple syrup in the country. The Old Vermont cocktail celebrates the sweetness: maple syrup is mixed with an equal amount of citrus juice (orange and lemon), a dash of bitters, and herbal gin. Get more recipes from Vermont.
Virginia: Gin Rickey
Now an established classic drink, the gin rickey was invented around Washington D.C. by Civil War veteran Colonel Joe Rickey. Rickey usually drank whiskey with soda water, until one day he tried adding lime juice and the shell of the squeezed citrus. The cocktail is bracing and not-at-all sweet, which marks it as distinctive amongst many other drinks on this list. Here are 15 more gin cocktails you’re missing out on.
Washington: Irish Coffee
Though coffee shops are ubiquitous from coast-to-coast these days, coffeehouse fever started in Seattle. We’ll drink to that! Enjoy a strong brew in the classic Irish Coffee: Irish whiskey, freshly brewed coffee, a spoonful of sugar, and heavy cream. The trick? Combine the first three ingredients in your glass and stir. Lightly whip or shake the cream. Hold a spoon over the glass, and carefully pour the cream over it to “float” it over the drink, topping every sip with a froth of cream. Get more tips on how to make the perfect Irish coffee here.
West Virginia: Gin and Tonic
According to the West Virginia tourist board, the gin and tonic at Tin 202 in Morgantown is one of the most popular in the state, despite its simplicity. The secret? The bar uses West Virginia-made Smooth Ambler barrel-aged gin, a mix of tonic and seltzer so it’s fizzy but not too sweet, and the oil from a twist of lemon. Only true G&T fans will appreciate this recipe for Gin & Tonic cupcakes.
Wisconsin: Brandy Old Fashioned
Wisconsinites spend more money on brandy than any other state in the union. Visit any dinner club worth its salt, and you’re sure to find a brandy old fashioned featured prominently on the menu. Using brandy instead of whiskey, the old fashioned is a bracing, sweet drink that’s dangerously easy to sip. The brandy is combined in a rocks glass with maraschino cherries, orange juice, a dash of bitters, a bit of lemon-lime soda, and plenty of ice cubes.
Wyoming: The Grizzly Bear
While grizzly bears are pretty ferocious, the cocktail named for them is mild and sweet. A creamy blend of Kahlua and milk gets a bit of a bite from Amaretto, and a chomp from Jägermeister. Did you know that you can make Kahlua at home? Here’s how.