Regional Cocktails
March 28, 2015 9:14 AM   Subscribe

A caesar, a brandy old-fashioned, etc. What cocktails define a region and get you strange looks when ordered elsewhere?

I grew up in Wisconsin, and upon leaving the state, I was surprised that making an old fashioned with brandy was unusual and that you don't always get a beer chaser when ordering a bloody mary.

What are some examples of other very specific regional drinks and traditions, in the US or around the world? I am somewhat skeptical of other lists I've found on the internet, so I'd love to hear your opinion.
posted by rocketbadger to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Not as bad as it used to be but when I was younger, ordering sweettea (one word) anywhere but the south got some questions about this odd, strange elixir...
posted by pearlybob at 9:21 AM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

The flavor of Malort won't punch you in the face anywhere but Chicago. Thank god.
posted by MsMolly at 9:23 AM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sazerac outside of New Orleans. Maybe a Cape Codder and its variants outside of New England.
posted by carmicha at 9:32 AM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

The New Orleans' Ramos gin fizz.

In Peru/Chile, the Pisco Sour (I've only had the Peruvian style but it's quite amazing).
posted by DoubleLune at 9:33 AM on March 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

> Sazerac outside of New Orleans.

Not in San Francisco, or, probably, any other city with a decent number of good cocktail bars (see this askme from last June, which just had another answer dropped in it yesterday!). Answers to this may depend heavily on how you define "region" and "outside"!
posted by rtha at 9:43 AM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

Bloody Marys don't automatically come with a free beer back at all bars; they always do in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:50 AM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mint Juleps are quite uncommon outside of the south.
posted by Lame_username at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2015

All the pubs in my town (and county - Cornwall, UK) would know what a Rum & Shrub was, but based on a recent thread, its not as known as it used to be in New York, and I would gamble in most other places either.
posted by biffa at 9:53 AM on March 28, 2015

Sazerac outside of New Orleans.

Seconding rtha - LA is lousy with Sazeracs
posted by univac at 10:08 AM on March 28, 2015

A long vodka used to be quite the thing when I was a student in Edinburgh in the mid-90s, and is apparently a mostly-Scottish thing. I live back in the 'burgh now, though, and haven't heard anyone order one for years - I think it might have suffered from the popularity of Moscow Mule alcopops in the late 90s, which tasted similar, but not as good.
posted by penguin pie at 10:10 AM on March 28, 2015

Ordering a boilermaker in Nova Scotia will get you a beer and a little glass of Clamato juice to be mixed and drunk when you don't feel like regular beer. Ordering a boilermaker elsewhere will get you something much stronger than tomato and clam juice.
posted by hydrobatidae at 10:26 AM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a feeling a lot of valid answers ten years ago are no longer valid, thanks to the burgeoning trendy cocktail scene in a lot of cities.
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:59 AM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

We've seen the Pisco sour on a number of restaurant menus here in New York recently.
posted by Jahaza at 11:21 AM on March 28, 2015

Seconding JauntyFedora, a few years ago there would have been a bunch of these I hadn't heard of. Now almost every craft bar I go in to has some take on a sazerac, and they're clubbing each other over the head to pick up stuff like this before other places do. Including the pisco sour, the long vodka(although with some other and more pretentious name) etc.
posted by emptythought at 11:34 AM on March 28, 2015

By no means a cocktail, but I've found that Wisconsin bars have a tradition of offering beer in 7 oz "tapper" glasses. Ask for a tapper outside state lines and you will only be served a blank stare.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 12:49 PM on March 28, 2015

DC - the gin rickey!
posted by capricorn at 1:09 PM on March 28, 2015

There are several places in Southern California where I've had to explain what a Shandy is to the bartender. Last week I didn't need to explain the drink but it was served with Coors Light as the beer portion. I was slightly aghast but remembered LA residents are anti-carb.
posted by Lil Bit of Pepper at 1:21 PM on March 28, 2015

It's available elsewhere, but Fernet is really and truly a San Francisco thing. Something like 3/4ths of all Fernet sales in the US are in San Francisco.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:26 PM on March 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

I met two separate bartenders in central Pennsylvania this week who had no clue how to make a daiquiri. I don't think that's regional though. I think it is just not a fashionable drink right now.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:29 PM on March 28, 2015

Not really a cocktail but in Texas we have something called a red draw. It's tomato juice and beer. Even better with a dash of salt and pepper.
posted by tamitang at 2:08 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

You're going to get a mix of well-versed and clueless bartenders everywhere. I've had to explain the Negroni some places, despite it being on the International Bartenders Association official cocktail list, which is probably as good a metric as any of "basic cocktails". The Pisco Sour and Sazerac are also on that list as well.

tamitang, that's called a cerveza preparada in Mexico, I don't see them called that much here in California but the similar Michelada is common.
posted by JauntyFedora at 2:17 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another one I remembered - coffee brandy in Maine.
posted by hydrobatidae at 2:25 PM on March 28, 2015

I learned what a Shandy was just a year or two ago from a friend from the south (this was in the bay area).
posted by samthemander at 3:18 PM on March 28, 2015

my hangover tells me the Sazerac is alive and well in Chicago
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:14 PM on March 28, 2015

A Panaché was mainly a French thing until recently with the craft cocktail trend.
It's draft beer & some carbonated lemonade.

It's similar to a Shandy, though Shandy's are looser... the beer can be mixed with any type of soda or still juice.

A Diesel is beer & coke. A German thing.
posted by artdrectr at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

But to answer the question, my attempts to order Micheladas in the upper Midwest have been mostly met with blank stares followed by a bottle of "Michelob." (I think they're only "a known thing" in Chicago because of its enormous Mexican food scene.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2015

I've always called a michelada (or actually, no lime/spices/clamato, just tomato juice and beer, aka a red eye, red beer, bloody beer, etc) an "Okie Bloody Mary" but I don't think that's a regional thing. Might just be my Okie grandma who calls it that...

I also came in to mention San Francisco and Fernet.

And Sacramento has the white linen.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:32 PM on March 28, 2015

In Germany I get asked "do you mean Martini coctail" when I order a Martini.

In Israel I had to dictate the recipe to the bartender.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:14 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Brandy Old Fashioned sweet (or sour)'s a WI thing.
posted by irish01 at 6:13 PM on March 28, 2015

This isn't alcoholic, but growing up in the NE I had never heard of an Arnold Palmer - and living out west now I see them everywhere.
posted by Toddles at 8:44 PM on March 28, 2015

Also, I'm not sure about this - but I feel like "car bombs" ( a shot sunk in a beer) is a Northeast thing - but maybe they have them elsewhere.
posted by Toddles at 8:46 PM on March 28, 2015

I don't think you can call something McDonald's has on its menu "obscure". Also, sweettea is not a cocktail.

Sazeracs are well known, and any decent cocktail bar can serve one. A Cape Codder is obscure, I'll admit. Mint Juleps are quite well known outside of the south. Gin Rickeys are served everywhere these days.

The problem with daiquiris is that most bartenders (who basically serve beer, wine, plus the "and" cocktails: rum and coke, 7&7, etc) believe it is something made by pouring rum into a mix - the plastic bottle right beside the margarita mix. Naturally, these make Tang seem like an "instant orange juice". I guarantee you that qualified bartenders everywhere in the US know the recipe.
MsMolly: The flavor of Malort won't punch you in the face anywhere but Chicago. Thank god.
Maybe true, but it's not a cocktail. It's a liquor. Looking at the entry for Malort... wormwood. Ah, yes. I've brewed with wormwood. Literally 20:1 dilution from the flavoring level of other gruit flavoring herbs before the bravest of us could sip it. Still not pleasant.

Fernet is similar: obscure, nasty, undrinkable even in dilutions with strongly flavored libations, but not a cocktail. Also, it's popular wherever you find elderly Italian men, who seem to delight in proving their manhood the only that is still possible: by pretending to like drinking Fernet.

The OP's brandy old-fashioned (as the default old-fashioned), the bloody mary with beer-back, the Nova Scotia variant of the boilermaker, and the rum & shrub are all fairly obscure localisms. White Linen is a must-try on my short list. Long vodka is a new one to me too - thanks!
posted by IAmBroom at 9:44 PM on March 28, 2015

The Picon Punch is a great example. It's a Basque cocktail made using amer (a bitter orange liqueur), grenadine, soda or seltzer water, a little brandy or cognac, and a citrus garnish (usually lemon).

Thanks to all the Basque farmers and shepherds that migrated to the Central Valley in California, this is a well-regarded drink in Fresno, Modesto, and Bakersfield (and in many other smaller communities in the valley). It's a common tipple at all the incredible Basque restaurants in the region. Finding amer picon is easy in liquor stores in these towns but tricky and tough in the rest of California (and the rest of the US). You can track it down in some parts of Nevada, too... but this really is a very regional drink here in the US.

It's really a tremendous, refreshing drink with quite a kick.
posted by Old Man McKay at 12:12 AM on March 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, the Buzzfeed article in the original post has some confusing crap (a high and dry for Arizona? As an Arizona native I've never even heard of the drink... this is margarita country, and I mean great margaritas with quality ingredients, not stuff made with bottled corn syrup crap). In fact I would say about 40 of the 50 drinks are utter crap and have nothing to do with the states they "represent."

But, it does have a couple of great drinks outlined. The Mai Tai really is is California's great contribution to the world of cocktails- and by that I mean the real, original, Trader Vic Mai Tai, not the syrupy bastardizations most people are familiar with.
posted by Old Man McKay at 12:20 AM on March 29, 2015

UK beer related: not just a shandy, but a 'lager top' = a strong shandy, easy on the lemonade.

Half and half, Mild and Bitter, a mixed pint = a half pint each of the pub's generic beers, usually mild/bitter or light/bitter.
This is a fairly old fashioned thing to order now, so they'd probably know what you meant in a traditional pub, but urban hipster bars will be baffled (it also relates to a time when pubs would have a much simpler choice of beers on tap: a lager, a bitter, a mild, maybe a stout, that's it).

Edited to add this comprehensive link about beer mixing
posted by AFII at 12:59 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kopstoot (head butt) or zijspannetje (sidecar): a glass of jenever (Dutch gin) followed immediately by a glass of beer.
Duikboot (submarine): same, except the jenever is in a shot glass which is positioned upside down inside the glass of beer.
As you can see, we're very refined in our tastes.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:11 AM on March 29, 2015

Oh, and this one is not so much regional as it is specific to hacker culture: tschunk (it sounds like choonk).
Diced limes, rum, Club Mate (a kind of caffeinated ice tea, based on the herb djerba mate), brown sugar, crushed ice.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:17 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Big Ginger used to be a Minnesota thing -- it's just Irish whiskey and ginger ale in a tall glass, and was specific to the Cara Pubs of the Twin Cities, but was very popular. But it's the official drink of 2 Gingers whiskey, which emerged from Cara, and so can now be ordered elsewhere, although it is still unfamiliar in most bars I go to, even if they sell 2 Gingers.
posted by maxsparber at 6:47 AM on March 29, 2015

Oh, and the New Orleans drink you can't get elsewhere is the wonderful Vieux Carre, originated at the Hotel Monteleone‎'s Carousel Bar and still their signature drink, but available elsewhere in New Orleans.
posted by maxsparber at 6:49 AM on March 29, 2015

Similar to what ZenMasterThis said, "a martini" here in the UK is not universally understood to mean the cocktail; often people think you mean the brand of vermouth (as though any sane person would order an entire glass of vermouth, but whatever, in a country where they add diet lemonade to beer I guess anything is possible). Hence the line in this Mitchell and Webb sketch in which James Bond asks for a martini: "I'm sorry, James, I don't think I've got any Martini."

Other UK-specific drinks I've discovered since moving here: a snakebite (alcoholic cider mixed with lager) and a snakebite and black (above with the addition of Ribena).
posted by stuck on an island at 11:23 AM on March 29, 2015

The snakebite and black was known as a Pink Panther in Edinburgh during the same era as the long vodka I mentioned above (ie. mid-90s).
posted by penguin pie at 12:21 PM on March 29, 2015

Montana = Whiskey Ditch. It's whiskey and water, usually with cheap whiskey. I ordered it one time on the east coast and had a very irate bartender who thought I said, "I want a whiskey, bitch."
posted by ITravelMontana at 2:18 PM on March 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's called a whiskey ditch because the resulting color of the drink looks like water in an irrigation ditch.
posted by ITravelMontana at 2:28 PM on March 29, 2015

maxsparber: Oh, and the New Orleans drink you can't get elsewhere is the wonderful Vieux Carre...
... unless you ask for it at a decent cocktail bar. It even shows up in Yelp reviews for Pittsburgh bars.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:49 AM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

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