In the pantheon of drinks, there have been some pretty weird and wacky names.
Inspiration can be as unremarkable as a drink named after a famous person like the Mary Pickford or a popular place from a certain era like the Brown Derby. Of course, there are plenty of sexually suggestive cocktails out there – the peach schnapps-laced Sex on the Beach comes to mind. Some drink names actually defy explanation because they are such an inside joke for the bartenders who chose them. And then, there are drinks named after animals.
Some of the more modern ones – the, uh-hum, Barking Spider (yes, we have the recipe) bring a giggle with the first sip. Others, like the Moscow Mule, have become classics in the drinks pantheon. Some 70’s sippers include the Greyhound (vodka and grapefruit juice) and its gin counterpart the Salty Dog (gin, grapefruit juice, and a salted rim.) The Horse’s Neck is a long drink that dates back to colonial times and mixes rum with hard cider. The moniker comes from the curl of lemon that drapes over the edge of the drink. The latter drinks are basically two-ingredient wonders; other animalistic libations get a bit more complicated.
So herewith, things are going to get a bit hairy as we embark on a boozy cocktail tour of the animal kingdom, and just for fun, pair it with movies to sip by. Cocktails and cinema — both pastimes best enjoyed in the company of others. So pop in a DVD — we’re rolling with mostly classics here — and get mixing.
Drink: Barking Spider
Description: Basically a modified Margarita — tequila, orange liqueur and sour mix are kicked up with over-proof (75.5% ABV!!) rum and orange juice for extra sweetness. Often served blended.
History: We promised you the recipe — here it is, with apologies for the more colloquial reference. There isn’t much real history here because this is a modern drink. However, there is in fact a real “barking” or whistling spider in Australia that rubs its front mating organs against its jaw to make the sound. Made with blue curaçao and “sour mix” to boot, you may even bark when you drink this concoction. If you want to class it up a bit, substitute regular orange curaçao for the blue and homemade sour mix (equal parts water, sugar, lemon juice, half part lime juice.)
Movie to Drink By: The 1977 “Kingdom of the Spiders”, whose tag line was “A living, crawling hell on earth!” and whose star was, wait for it, William Shatner. The 1970s loved “nature gone wild” movies and this one is a doozy. Tarantulas and Shatner — that combination calls for a drink.
- 1 1/2 oz. Tequila (original recipe calls for Tarantula Azul)
- 1 1/2 oz. Blue Curacao or regular orange curaçao liqueur
- 3/4 oz. Bacardi® 151 rum
- 1 dash Triple sec
- 1 dash Sour mix
- 1 splash Orange juice
Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled collins glass, or blend for a frozen version of this drink.
Drink: Bee’s Knees
Description: A honey-based gin sour. Choose the honey wisely as the flavor can take over if it’s too cloying. We like wildflower or acacia, whose softer profiles don’t compete with the elegance of the drink.
History: In the late 18th century, the “bee’s knees” meant something unimportant. By the 1920s, it became slang for something or someone really cool. History suggests that the drink itself appeared during the Prohibition era, most likely as an excuse to cover up the nasty flavor of bathtub gin with citrus and honey.
Movie to Drink By: Without bees, we have no honey. Without honey, we have no Bee’s Knees. On a more serious note, bees are a crucial link in the earth’s ecosystem. With bee colonies dying out around the world, we need to step back and examine what needs to be done to slow or stop the crisis. Take your pick of these documentaries — “Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?”, “More Than Honey”, or “Vanishing of the Bees.” Not light-hearted entertainment, but you’ll have a drink in your hand.
- 2 oz. Dry gin, such as Beefeater or Tanqueray
- 1 oz. Honey syrup (1:1 honey to water)
- 1 oz. Lemon juice
Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe or martini glass.
Drink: The Crow
Description: A sour in disguise. Well not really. A sour is simply spirit, citrus, and sweetener. Here, the grenadine stands in for the simple syrup and transforms an ordinary whiskey sour into something altogether more complex.
History: The Crow’s provenance is murky, but it shows up in both The Savoy Cocktail Book and Boothby’s World Drinks, each book offering different proportions. Add vermouth and you have a Scofflaw, but this forgotten drink stands on its own. Much like the Bee’s Knees, a small adjustment creates an entirely new drink.
Movie to Drink By: Sure we could be completely obvious and say, duh, “The Crow.” But, we are going mostly old-school here. So, like the drink in question, Hitchcock’s “The Birds” is as fine an example of a simplistic premise elevated to art.
- 1 1/2 oz. Whiskey, such as Woodford Reserve Bourbon or Rittenhouse Rye
- 11/2 oz. Lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp. Grenadine
Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe.
Description: Green, green, did we say green? A minty milkshake with a shot of booze. What’s not to like?
History: Go back to the early 1900s in New Orleans and you are likely to find a Grasshopper on offer at Tujague’s, which has been around since 1856. It was Philibert Guichet, whose family bought the spot in the early part of the 20th century, who apparently created it for a New York cocktail competition. The name most likely is derived from the drink’s distinct green color.
Movie to Drink By: Anything by Jackie Chan, but we suggest “The Legend of Drunken Master.” That factory finale where Chan fights his real life body guard is the bomb.
- 3/4 oz. Green crème de menthe
- 3/4 oz. White crème de cacao
- 3/4 oz. Light cream
Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.
Drink: The Monkey Gland
Description: Orange flavors and absinthe are long time bedfellows. Pair them with gin and the herbal quality of the absinthe shines, its anise character balanced by the sweetness of the grenadine.
History: Showing up in Harry McElhone’s 1927 Barflies and Cocktails, this drink was a definitive ex patriot snub at Prohibition in America. the name offers us a glance into the weirdness of our medical past whereby gentlemen with virility issues would get a transplant of monkey testicles. Let’s toast Viagra and modern medicine.
Movie to Drink By: Dig in with the entire original “Planet of the Apes” series. If Charlton Heston had been sipping these, he might not have had to say, “Take your stinkin’ paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
- 1 1/2 oz. dry gin
- 1 1/2 oz. Fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp. Absinthe
- 1 tsp. Grenadine
- 1 tsp. Simple syrup, if desired
Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe.