Restaurant Guides

9 Essential Alaska Cocktails to Sip & Savor

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Whatever you call them – cocktails, tipples, libations, mixed drinks – exploring a destination through its drinks is a great way to go. While I originally had strong preferences about which spirits I enjoyed (and didn’t), I’ve become more agnostic – or perhaps open-minded – about liquor as I have gotten older and traveled more.

That means that I’m always on the lookout for unique concoctions and combinations of ingredients when traveling around Alaska (I also love craft beer, meads, and ciders too – it’s hard to choose!). Below you’ll find some of my favorite Alaska cocktails that I’ve tried throughout my travels around The Last Frontier.

Alaska Cocktails Hero

Whether you know what you like (to drink) or are open to trying something new, make note of these varyingly-iconic cocktails and where to find them during your Alaska trip. You can – of course – go off-book (or off-menu, as it were) to choose something else, but this will get you started planning the perfect accompaniments to your meals – or just new flavors and experiences you want to have. Cheers!

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In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of many Alaska Native groups, including the Aleut, Athabascan, Haida, Inupiat, Tlingit, and Yuit peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

Duck Fart (Peanut Farm/Anchorage)

I’m stretching the definition of “cocktail” right off the bat here, but stick with me: the Duck Fart is the only alcoholic drink that Alaska lays claim to, so I can’t have a list of cocktails to try in Alaska and not include it.

Originally created at The Peanut Farm in Anchorage, you can find the Duck Fart on the menu at dive bars across the state (or make your own at home). In its original form, it’s a layered shot of Kahlúa coffee liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Crown Royal Blended Canadian Whiskey in equal parts; you might find it blended at some bars, which is also delicious.

In either case, this isn’t one to sip and savor slowly – shoot it back and be delighted: everyone I’ve recommended to try it says it’s disarmingly delicious.

As Alaska’s biggest city, you’ll probably want to spend more time here than for just one shot, so don’t miss my guide for things to do in Anchorage in summer (or in winter), as well as all the other restaurants I recommend in town, and where I recommend staying.

Aurora Margarita (Chena Hot Springs/Fairbanks)

When visiting Fairbanks, I consider Chena Hot Springs one of those essential things to do – in summer or in winter, the geothermal springs are delightful and (until recently*) an uncommon experience.

Ideally, you’d have enough time in your Alaska itinerary to stay a night or two at the resort, and thus enjoy meals at their onsite restaurant and lounge. If so, be sure to order the Aurora Margarita, which is layered with tequila, blue curaçao, and maraschino syrup. It’s fruity and sweet, but the colors are fantastic and the bartenders claim that it will help you see the northern lights better… maybe even in the summer** if you drink enough of them!

In addition to Chena Hot Springs Resort (for meals, accommodations, and experiences), check out my guides for Fairbanks’ best restaurants and best hotels.

*Several new Nordic spas and hot springs have opened in recent years to offer an alternative to Chena, but I still recommend it!
**The northern lights are only potentially visible between around August 21 to April 21 each year.

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Appletini (Aurora Ice Museum/Fairbanks)

I wasn’t planning to include two Alaskan cocktails from any one bar, but Chena Hot Springs Resort has managed to corner me on that: in addition to the Aurora Margarita, no visit is complete without sampling the Appletini from an ice glass in the Aurora Ice Museum!

As part of your tour of the Ice Museum and its fantastical sculptures, you can sit down at the Aurora Ice Bar for an adult beverage. There’s only one thing on the menu – the Appletini – so you enjoy what is served (even if you have to get over a long-standing flavor aversion due to having one too many at some point in your college days!). It’s still as sickly sweet as you might remember, but also one of those quintessential Alaskan drink experiences.

Anything On The Menu (Port Chilkoot/Haines)

Before visiting in 2022, I don’t know that I would ever have thought of Alaska as having a craft cocktail scene… Most of the bars I visited prior to that year were the delightful rough-and-tumble dives that draw more locals than tourists – and I really love that kind of experience.

That was until a visit to Haines, when Mr. V discovered Port Chilkoot Distilling and thought we should stop in for a drink on a windy, rainy day. It was one of two visits I made that year, and left me struggling now to choose which cocktail to recommend.

Instead of choosing a single cocktail, I’ll make this a “choose your own” item; I’ve tried the Mai Tai (made with their rum) and the Bees Knees (made with their gin), but I’d be hard pressed today if you asked me to choose among the What the Shrub (made with their rye), Siren Swizzle (made with their absinthe), or a classic Manhattan… I’ve also sampled their whiskeys so I know they’re all fabulous.

All this to say: if you find yourself in Haines, be sure to swing by Port Chilkoot. Pick your poison – I mean preferred spirit – and go from there. You really can’t go wrong.

Haines is way off the common tourist track, so if you’re planning to visit, be sure to also check out the other spots I recommend to eat and drink and where to stay during your visit.

One Way to Paradise (The Kannery/Homer)

To be completely honest, I have not tried the One Way to Paradise at Homer’s The Kannery, and the picture above does not show it; I tried their spruce Mai Tai during my August 2022 visit but that’s no longer on the menu. The One Way to Paradise seems to be their latest tropical offering and is similar enough in style that I feel confident recommending it as a substitute.

While a Mai Tai is rum, orange curaçao, orgeat (almond), and lime juice (The Kannery made theirs with spruce tip orgeat, I believe), the One Way to Paradise is a bit different: it’s rum, coconut cream, pineapple, spirulina, and lime. So definitely different flavor profiles – but also a refreshingly tropical tipple for being in The Last Frontier.

Homer is a great place to escape the main tourist crowds in Alaska; here’s what else to do there, where (else) to eat and drink, and where to stay.

Spruce Collins (Amalga/Juneau)

If you are big into food and drink, you might recognize the name Amalga Distilling: they were nominated for a James Beard award in 2024! Mr. V and I had actually already visited (during our 2022 Alaska cruise) on the recommendation of my Juneau-based blogger friend Elizabeth (whom we met there, along with her now-husband).

Amalga has a number of great spirits to try, plus they always have a rotating menu of cocktails. If you see it on the menu, be sure to give the Spruce Collins a try (they also offer it as a canned cocktail, so it should be available!); it’s a riff on the Tom Collins that substitutes Amalga’s “Juneauper” for the standard Old Tom gin and flavors with spruce tip simple syrup instead of standard simple syrup. As you might expect, it’s insanely earthy and tree-ish but unique and delicious too!

To fill the rest of your time (and meals) in Juneau, here’s where to eat, where to stay, and how to make the most of your time if you only have one day to visit.

Ginger Beez Knees (Uncharted Alaska/Ketchikan)

During our visit to Ketchikan in early summer 2022, Mr. V and I split up: I went to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show and Cape Fox Lodge, while he wandered around town on foot… when we met up later in the day, he told me he had discovered a place we had to return: Uncharted Alaska Distillery.

During happy hour, we stopped in to sample the spirits they offered at the time, which was (if memory serves) primarily gin and vodka (they now have whiskey and agave too). We also ordered a cocktail; the Ginger Bees Kneez is one of their staples, usually offered on every seasonal menu. (If you’re not familiar, a standard Bees Knees is 2-to-1-to-½ of gin, lemon juice, and honey.)

Even if you’re not big into gin (which apparently, I am, since several of the Alaskan cocktails on this list are gin-based!), they have a variety of other options using their Alaskan-made spirits; I recommend doing a tasting of them first to pick a base spirit you like, then ordering a cocktail after that.

Planning to visit Ketchikan? Here’s how to make the most of one day, as well as where to eat (before/after drinks) and where to stay.

Sourtoe Cocktail (Sourdough Saloon/Dawson City)

Before you jump at me in the comments, yes, I know that the Yukon Territory is not part of Alaska. But, if you’re driving to or from Alaska as part of your travel plans, you might find yourself passing through Dawson City and if so, there are two drinks you have to try.

First up, the iconic Sourtoe Cocktail at the Sourdough Saloon. It is exactly what it sounds like: a drink with a literal human toe in it. At the saloon during the appointed hours when the Sourtoe Captain is present, you order your preferred spirit (Yukon Jack is the recommended option), he drops the toe into the liquor, and leads you through the ceremony to imbibe the drink – but not the toe!!!

I finally joined the “Sourtoe Cocktail Club” during my Yukon trip in 2023, and can’t wait to return with Mr. V and Baby V (once she’s no longer a baby and can actually try it for herself) someday.

If you’re planning to visit Dawson City, here’s what else to do beyond joining the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

The Alaska (BonTon/Dawson City)

It’s funny that the second cocktail I recommend in Dawson City is named for Alaska – but I’ve never seen this cocktail on any Alaskan drink menu… or on a drink menu anywhere, actually. I found it at BonTon & Company in Dawson City, hands down the best restaurant in town – and even more special for having this drink.

The Alaska cocktail is a simple, understated classic: it’s three parts gin (usually Tom Collins) to one part yellow Chartreuse with a dash of orange bitters and a twist of lemon. It’s heady and herbaceous – strongly anise – due to the Chartreuse (which is really hard to find anymore, so be sure to try it if you can!) and honestly wasn’t my favorite… but I couldn’t not include the Alaska on a list of essential Alaska cocktails to try when you’re in this part of the world.

Inspired by trying this cocktail, I put together my own recipe post about how you can make the Alaska cocktail at home. Check it out if you’re intrigued by my description.

Retired: McKinley Margarita (Salmon Bake/Denali)

When I sat down to write this post, I’ll admit it: it felt a little bittersweet. See, there’s one cocktail I recommended for years – but you can no longer enjoy it, so technically it shouldn’t be on the list. The Denali Park Salmon Bake closed during the pandemic, and with it went the iconic McKinley Margarita – a towering pile of blue slushie margarita meant to evoke the essence of the towering mountain nearby.

But I decided to add it anyway… After all, this is the cocktail I didn’t get to enjoy during the summer I worked in Denali and was still underage. This is the cocktail that inspired me to visit the Salmon Bake on my first trip back to Alaska after my family moved away.

So here’s me raising a glass – of one of these other Alaskan cocktails – in memory of the McKinley Margarita. Along with changing the name of the mountain back to its original Native title, this last vestige of “Mount McKinley” is now just a part of history.

Need more advice for visiting Denali? Here are the things I recommend to do, how to plan a 2-3 day itinerary, where to eat (and drink – other than the Salmon Bake), and where to stay.

Have any questions about these iconic Alaska cocktails or did you try a different one during your Alaska trip that you think deserves to be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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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.

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