Recipes

Alaska Cocktail Recipe: Gold Rush in a Glass

My blog posts likely contain affiliate links, including for the Amazon Associates program.
If you click, book, or buy from one of these links, I may earn a commission. Read more in my Privacy Policy.

While it might be part of the United States, Alaska is a place unlike anywhere else in the country – and indeed the world. It has long inspired everyone from poets and preservationists to businessfolk and… bartenders? Yep, Alaska’s a special place.

If you’re researching an Alaska trip or have just returned home, you might be keen for a little more “Alaska” in your life. Enter: the Alaska cocktail. This small but mighty libation keeps it simple, and actually has very little to do with Alaska at all – but I’m getting ahead of myself!

Alaska Cocktail Hero

In this post, I’ll share the history of the Alaska cocktail including where I first tasted it – and how you can make it at home. Without further ado (because there’s nothing I hate more than a long preamble before the recipe!), here’s an Alaska cocktail recipe to bring The Last Frontier into your lounge.

History of the Alaska Cocktail

While the Alaska cocktail predates statehood (1959), it doesn’t date as far back as the Gold Rush whose era it evokes with its golden hue – nor does it originated from The Last Frontier. (The only drink Alaska can claim its own is the far less sophisticated – in both name and ingredients – Duck Fart.)

Instead, the Alaska is a pre-Prohibition cocktail; it first appeared in print in 1913 in a little cocktail book called Manual of Mixed Drinks by Jacques Straub (manager of the Pendennis Club of Louisville, Kentucky, and later the wine steward of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago). Whether Straub or one of his bartenders invented the cocktail or not is unknown, but that’s the first record of it.

Originally, the recipe called for Old Tom Gin, a sweeter, barrel-aged style of gin that you can now find made today by several of the big gin distillers (like Tanqueray). By the Alaska’s publication in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, however, Old Tom-style gin was replaced with a London dry gin; that’s the way you’ll find it made today… if you can find it made today!

After learning of the Alaska cocktail, I set my heart on trying it made properly. However, I can’t remember ever seeing it on a cocktail menu, and certainly not in Alaska itself. In the end, I found it on the menu of a great restaurant in Dawson City, Yukon – possibly as far from anywhere as it’s possible to be! I tried it, and then set out to recreate it at home. It’s from those experimentations that this post was written.

Alaska Cocktail Recipe

Alaska Cocktail Ingredients

If you’re curious to give this old-school cocktail a try at home, here’s what you’ll need:

  • London Dry Gin (I used Tanqueray since that’s what I had, but any will do)
  • Yellow Chartreuse (Buy it if you can find it!)
  • Orange Bitters (I love Yukon-made Free Pour Jenny’s, but it’s not available anymore)
  • A lemon
  • A mixing glass and stirring spoon
  • A drink strainer
  • Nick & Nora or Coupe glass (I found mine at Goodwill!)

That plus a jigger with half-ounce measurement marks (unless you double the recipe to make it easier!) and you’re all set to follow the recipe:

Alaska Cocktail Recipe

Alaska Cocktail Card
Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces of gin*
  • ½ ounce of yellow Chartreuse
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • Lemon peel

Instructions

  1. Combine gin, yellow Chartreuse, and orange bitters in a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir until chilled.
  3. Strain into a Nick & Nora or coupe glass.

Notes

*Originally, this cocktail called for Old Tom gin; today, it's most commonly made with a London dry gin like Beefeater, Sipsmith's, or Tanqueray.

As I mentioned, I first tried the Alaska in Dawson City, Yukon Territory – and I didn’t really like it. But now that I can make it at home with my own preferred gin and bitters, I’ve become a big fan. What do you think of the Alaska cocktail? Have any other questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Help others discover this post too!

I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to Recipe