Who doesn’t love a good cocktail? We have searched high and low for 51 of the best drinks based either local ingredients or local ties to each state (plus Washington, D.C.). While some of these are only found at local bars, most of these recipes can easily be made at home, even if you have to track down some more non-traditional ingredients!
Alabama: Alabama Slammer
If you know nothing else about Alabama, you should know this drink. This drink was supposedly invented in 1975 at the University of Alabama, becoming popular among college students in the 1980s. The Alabama Slammer is served in a Collins glass and is made with amaretto, Southern Comfort, sloe gin, and orange juice.
Alaska: Midnight Sun
In June, Alaska gets more than 17 hours of daylight, and it seems as though the sun never actually sets. This Midnight Sun cocktail is the perfect drink when you are taking advantage of the long summer days. Mix two parts vodka with one park dry vermouth, one part cherry brandy with ice, stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish the drink with a maraschino berry.
Arizona: Melon Ball Cocktail
Arizona is the second biggest producer of cantaloupes in the United States, so it seems fitting to have a cantaloupe flavored drink for the state cocktail. The Melon Ball Cocktail would be a great summer drink, and it consists of melon liquor, orange juice, cantaloupe, sugar, and vodka.
Arkansas: Arkansas Buttermilk
The obvious choice for Arkansas is the Arkansas Razorback, but we went a different route in choosing the lesser-known Arkansas Buttermilk. This is a cocktail that is delicious, but not for the faint of heart – pineapple juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, grenadine syrup, vodka, and bourbon.
California: Mulholland Drive
Even if you have never been to California, you have seen Mulholland Drive. Not just home to countless celebrities, this road is used in movies, commercials, and music videos regularly, so it definitely represents the Golden State. Made with vanilla bean-infused vodka, ginger syrup, lime and soda, you can grab one of these at Station Hollywood in (you guessed it) Hollywood, California.
Colorado: Palisade Peach Mojito
Colorado is known nationwide for it’s summer Palisade peaches, so this drink is the perfect representative for the Centennial State. It’s also easy to make – just add Palisade peach juice/puree to the classic mojito ingredients (white rum, cane sugar, lime juice, sparkling water and yerba buena).
Connecticut: Connecticut Bullfrog
The bullfrog is the largest frog in the United States and is common throughout Connecticut, and this drink is a tribute to both the state and the amphibian. Make one at home by combining four parts gin with one part rum, one part lemon juice, and one part maple syrup (also something the state is well-known for).
Delaware: The Great Punkin
Delaware is mostly known for being the first state to ratify the constitution, it’s beaches, and Dogfish Head beer. This fall cocktail has been described as tasting like a “slice of pumpkin pie”. You can try it by mixing Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale and a shot of vanilla vodka in a glass with a cinnamon sugar rim.
Florida: The Rum Runner
This drink originated on the Florida island of Islamorada in the 1950s when bartender Tiki John needed a way to get rid of a surplus of rum. I have a feeling his customers didn’t mind helping him out with this delicious drink, consisting of blackberry brandy, banana liqueur, black rum, 151 proof rum, grenadine, and lime juice.
Georgia: Zombie Apocalypse
More recent history than some of the other cocktails, the Zombie Apocalypse is named after the popular TV show, The Walking Dead, that is filmed in Georgia. Made with light rum, dark rum, 151 proof rum, mezcal, cognac, apry, velvet falernum, orgeat, lime, grenadine, and Angostura bitters, you might be stumbling around like a zombie after a couple of these. Grab one at H Harper Station in Atlanta.
Hawaii: Blue Hawaii
This tropical drink will remind you of Hawaii even if you aren’t relaxing out on the beach. Mix together rum, pineapple juice, Curaçao, sweet and sour mix (and a little vodka, too), pop an umbrella and pineapple wedge on the glass and you’ll have yourself a sweet drink invented by the legendary Waikiki bartender Harry Yee.
Idaho: Vodka Tonic
Idaho produces more potatoes than any other state in the U.S., so what better cocktail than a direct tribute to vodka, which is made from potatoes? Mix one part vodka, two parts tonic water, and garnish with a lime. Bonus points if you use a vodka from Idaho, like Grand Teton Distillery or 44° North Vodka).
Illinois: Chicago Cocktail
First appearing on menus in the 19th century, the Chicago Cocktail is made with two parts brandy, one part champagne, angostura bitters, and triple sec. It is assumed that the drink was named after the city, but it is unknown whether it actually originated there or not.
It has become a tradition that the winner of the Indy 500 celebrates by drinking a bottle of milk, thanks to Louis Meyer back in the 1930s. Considering that the Indy 500 is in Indianapolis, Indiana, this unique drink is a must-try for racing fans. Mix Drambuie, scotch, milk and walnut bitters in a shaker, and then garnish with an orange twist.
Iowa: Old Fashioned
Templeton Rye is practically a family name in Iowa, originally made in Templeton, Iowa, during Prohibition, and is said to have been Al Capone’s favorite drink. Though not created in Iowa, an Old Fashioned with rye whiskey is a great way to celebrate this alcohol, adding it to muddled sugar with bitters and a citrus twist.
Kansas: The Pendergast
Before, during, and after Prohibition, liquor has flowed freely in Kansas City. The Pendergast is a variation of the Bobby Burns, named after Thomas Pendergast, a Kansas City politician with known Mafia connections and also known for giving rise to the Kansas City jazz era. Combine bourbon, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and angostura bitters and garnish with a lemon twist.
Kentucky: Mint Julep
Bourbon is a well-known Kentucky favorite, and so is the mint julep. Over 100,000 of these drinks, made with bourbon, sugar, water, and spearmint, are served every year at the Kentucky Derby, and it likely originated in Kentucky in the 1700s.
In March 2008, one of Louisiana’s state senators attempted a bill to get Sazerac designated at Louisiana’s state cocktail, but sadly, it failed. The good news is that in June of 2008, it did earn the title of New Orleans’ official cocktail, so here’s to giving Sazerac the credit it deserves. Originating in the 1800s in New Orleans, the Sazerac is created with absinthe, sugar, rye whiskey or Cognac, and Peychaud’s Bitters.
Maine: Blueberry Honey Vodka Lemonade
Maine’s state insect is the honeybee and the state berry is the wild blueberry, so why not combine these two into a delicious, refreshing drink? This is a DIY kind of cocktail, but worth the effort. Combine ice, Blueberry Honey Simple Syrup, lemon juice, and vodka in a shaker, then strain and garnish with a lemon slice. I’m dreaming of summer already.
Maryland: The Black-Eyed Susan
This drink is named after the flower that is used in the blanket draped on the winning horse at the Preakness Stakes each year in Baltimore. It’s also the official drink of the Preakness, but if you can’t make it to the races, throw it together at home with some vodka, St. Germain, pineapple juice, lime juice, and orange juice.
Massachusetts: Sea Breeze
When you think of cranberries, you might think of a farmer in waders in the middle of a cranberry bog, thanks to a well-known juice commercial. It’s very likely that the commercial was shot in Cape Cod, in part of the 14,000 acres of cranberry bog found in the area. For the Massachusetts state drink, you could go with a classic Cape Codder (vodka and cranberry juice), or try something a little different with the Sea Breeze, also popular on Cape Cod – 3 oz. cranberry juice, 3 oz. grapefruit juice, 1.5 oz. of vodka.
Michigan: Wayne Fontes Cooler
Every Detroit Lions fan knows of Wayne Fontes, the head coach of the football team from 1988-1996, who had both the most wins (67) and the most losses (71) for a head coach in the history of the team. It only seems appropriate to honor the football team and the coach with this cocktail, designed by a local mixologist, Melissa Smith. Mix blueberry-infused vodka, blueberry simple syrup, raspberry blueberry Faygo (a Detroit based soft drink), and iced green tea. Garnish with a lemon.
Minnesota: Purple People Eater
Vikings fans are known as Purple People Eaters, but you don’t even have to like football to love this drink. It’s pretty simple, too. Mix 2 oz. of grape vodka with ½ oz. grenadine and ½ oz. blue curacao, shake and strain into a tall glass.
Mississippi: Mississippi Mudslide
There are very few opportunities to get not just a cocktail, but a boozy milkshake, so we had to go with the Mississippi Mudslide for this one. I mean, what doesn’t sound delicious about coffee ice cream, chocolate ice cream, milk, bourbon, and whipped cream?
Missouri: The Missouri Mule
This cocktail was created by bartender Joe Gilmore to honor President Harry S. Truman (who was from Missouri) and also the Democratic mascot. The Missouri Mule is made with two parts Bourbon, two parts Applejack, two parts lemon juice, one part Campari, and one part Cointreau. Shake it with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Montana: Blue Sky Martini
You may have heard of Montana referred to as “Big Sky Country”, so what better way to honor this state than with a Blue Sky Martini? It’s basically a vodka martini with a splash of vermouth and blue curacao for that gorgeous blue sky color.
Nebraska: Lewis & Clark
Even though this cocktail was created at an upscale bar called Huckleberry’s in New York City, this cocktail pays homage to the many explorers who crossed Nebraska, specifically the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Even the vodka used in this cocktail is infused with bison grass, for the full prairie experience. Mix Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka with Lagunitas IPA, and add apple-pear puree, lemon juice, and honey syrup.
Nevada: Nevada Cocktail
When a state already has a cocktail named after it, why reinvent the wheel? Even though Nevada became a state on October 31, 1864, voters decided to celebrate Nevada day on the last Friday in October. Many residents choose to celebrate with one of these cocktails – 2 parts white rum, 1 part grapefruit juice, a splash of lime juice, a spoonful of sugar, and a dash of Angostura bitters.
New Hampshire: Gundalow
Historically, the gundalow was a type of cargo ship that was frequently found in New England’s waters in the 1800s. Today, the Gundalow is a delicious drink created by a local bartender, using local ingredients. The Gundalow is made with General John Stark vodka, Flag Hill cranberry liqueur, lime juice, Cointreau, and a slice of lime.
New Jersey: Garden State Cocktail
This cocktail was the 2012 New Jersey winner in a national competition, and is described as “Jersey fresh”. We’ll let you decide. Mix Jamaican-style rum with St. Germain, lime juice, simple syrup, Jersey cucumber slices, anise hyssop, and seltzer.
New Mexico: Hatch Chile Margarita
If there is one thing that people in New Mexico love, it would be their hatch chiles. This margarita mixes salty, sweet, and spicy in one glass! Muddle a couple hatch chiles with lime juice, then pour it into a glass with the rest of the traditional margarita ingredients – tequila and triple sec. If you let the chiles sit with the tequila for a day or two, it will really infuse the flavor!
New York: Manhattan
Legend has it that Dr. Iain Marshall invented the Manhattan at the Manhattan Club in the late 1800s for presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden, but there is also an earlier reference to a similar cocktail invented in the 1860s at a bar on Broadway, so it’s origin is definitely up for debate. Either way, the cocktail is made with 2 parts whiskey, 1 part sweet vermouth, a couple dashes of Angostura bitters, and a Maraschino cherry. Run an orange peel around the rim of the glass, pour the drink in, and enjoy!
North Carolina: The Cherry Bounce
The story of this cocktail has been passed on for years, but it is generally accepted to have been invented in 1796, and is now known as Raleigh’s official cocktail. The original Cherry Bounce was made with an infusion of brandy, cherries, and sugar that sat for weeks or months. Dave Rose of Deep South The Bar has updated the drink a bit to include cherry vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, topped of with club soda and a cherry.
North Dakota: Corn ‘n Oil
This cocktail uses blackstrap rum to give it a crude oil look, which the state has seen quite a bit of with the boom in oil extraction at the Bakken formation. To make a Corn ‘n Oil, mix 2 oz. blackstrap rum, ½ oz. Velvet Falernum, ½ oz. lime juice, and 3 dashes of Angostura bitters in a rocks glass with ice.
Ohio: Bloody Mary
Believe it or not, Ohio’s state beverage is tomato juice, making the Bloody Mary the perfect cocktail to represent the Buckeye State. Make a traditional Bloody Mary with vodka, tomato juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire, horseradish, celery salt, pepper, and paprika, or use pepper infused vodka for a stronger flavor.
Oklahoma: The Stumbling Cowboy
Oklahoma is well known for it’s cowboy history, and is even home to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. This Stumbling Cowboy cocktail mixes rye whiskey and sarsaparilla syrup with club soda that might have you stumbling after a couple glasses!
Oregon: The Campfire Confessional
Even if your state isn’t half covered in forestland, this Campfire Confessional is the perfect drink to toss in a jar and drink by the fire on your next camping trip. Created by a local Portland bartender, this drink includes cognac, lemon juice, orange juice, honey drinking vinegar, Angostura bitters and a pinch of herbs.
Pennsylvania: Hershey Highway Cocktail
Just east of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, there is a downtown at the intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues that is known as the “Sweetest Place on Earth”. Welcome to Hershey, Pennsylvania, home of the Hershey Company. There are quite a few cocktails that have been inspired by candy bars, but the Hershey Highway Cocktail highlights the main ingredient in these bars – chocolate. The Hershey Highway Cocktail mixes Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream, crème de cacao, chocolate milk and chocolate syrup in an icy glass for a creamy, chocolaty treat.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Red
Santa Monica bartender Vincenzo Marianella invented the Rhode Island Red in 2005, possibly playing homage to the state’s “red” history (the island was previously known as “Red Island” based on maps from the 1600s). This red drink is made with raspberries, tequila, Chambord, lemon juice, simple syrup, orange bitters and chilled ginger beer.
South Carolina: Firefly Toddy
If you’ve ever been to the Southern U.S., then you know the affinity with sweet tea. When Firefly Distillery (on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina) created the first sweet tea flavored vodka, it was an instant hit with locals. The Firefly Toddy is perfect for a cooler winter evening nightcap, mixing one part Firefly Sweet Tea vodka with a splash of peach or raspberry flavored vodka and four parts hot tea.
South Dakota: El Presidente
When most people think of South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore comes to mind, the mountain memorial to four of America’s presidents. The El Presidente cocktail, made with white rum, orange curacao, dry vermouth, and grenadine, will memorialize them in a way that doesn’t require a trip out to South Dakota.
Tennessee: Gentleman Sour
With the Jack Daniels’ Distillery located right in Lynchburg, Tennessee, it’s no surprise that the whiskey is a popular ingredient in many local cocktails. This Gentleman Sour is the perfect cocktail to represent Tennessee’s true Southern gentleman, Jack Daniels. The drink is made with two parts Gentleman Jack, one part lemon juice, one part simple syrup, and garnished with an orange slice and a Maraschino cherry.
Texas: Texas Pecan
What better way to top off a hearty Texas BBQ than with a smoked cocktail? The Texas Pecan, created at the Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth, is part dessert, part smoke, all delicious. The Woodshed mixes pecan pie vodka, Kahlua, and milk with the secret ingredient – smoked ice cubes.
Utah: Bee’s Knees
Known as the Beehive State, Utah has surprisingly few bees (it’s ranked 24th in the U.S. in honey production). So what’s with the nickname? The original honeybee reference goes back to the Book of Mormon, but according to Salt Lake Magazine, an 1881 article explained that “the hive and honey bees form our communal coat of arms. … It is a significant representation of the industry, harmony, order and frugality of the people, and of the sweet results of their toil, union and intelligent cooperation.” The Bee’s Knees is a cocktail that wasn’t exactly created in support of the Beehive State, but we think the blend of gin, lemon juice, and honey simple syrup is pretty sweet anyway.
Vermonters take their maple syrup seriously, and even took fast food giant McDonald’s to court over using the word maple to describe syrup that wasn’t 100% maple. McDonald’s actually settled with them, agreeing to offer a certified, 100% maple syrup in Vermont. So when you go to try this No’Easter for youself, make sure you get the real deal maple syrup to mix with bourbon, lime juice and ginger beer.
Virginia: The Lover’s Cocktail
They say Virginia is for lovers, so the Lover’s Cocktail is a match made in heaven. Shake Limoncello, vodka, and Cointreau for 20 seconds, then pour into two tall fluted glasses, top off with Prosecco and a splash of grenadine and stir.
Washington: Apple Crush
10-12 billion apples are hand picked in Washington every year, so chances are high that those apples in your kitchen are from this state. While there are many versions of the Apple Crush, this recipe mixes apple vodka, scotch whiskey, and a pinch of cinnamon with fresh apple juice over ice.
West Virginia: Caipirinha
West Virginians have a reputation for being a bit… hillbilly, and “Caipirinha” is Brazilian slang for someone who lives in the countryside (aka a hillbilly). While the drink’s American cousin, the Hillbilly Highball, is made with whiskey and Mountain Dew soda, the Caipirinha is made with two parts Cachaça, a sugar cane spirit, muddled lime, and ½ oz. of simple syrup.
Wisconsin: Whiskey Sour
Because the Old Fashioned is listed under another state, the next best thing for Wisconsin is the Whiskey Sour, which was first seen in print in 1870 in the Waukesha Plaindealer. This recipe, which adds an egg white and bitters, is rumored to have originated in the 1700s: Shake bourbon/rye with lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and Angostura bitters without ice. Add ice and shake again, then strain into a chilled glass.
Wyoming: Wyoming Sidesaddle
Every year, the Wyoming Whiskey Company has a “Bartender Shootout” statewide drink competition, and in 2014, Kylie North created the Wyoming Sidesaddle. Given that Wyoming is known as the “Cowboy State”, proudly promoted with a bucking horse and rider on the license plate, this seems like a fitting cocktail to represent the state. The Wyoming Sidesaddle is made with Wyoming Whiskey, Tuaca, gingersnap simple syrup, lemon juice, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters.
Washington, D.C.: Gin Rickey
This cocktail was originally created in the 1880s with bourbon, but didn’t take off worldwide until almost a decade later, when it was made with gin instead. The drink has recently seen a revival and a group of D.C. based bartenders have dubbed July as “Rickey month.” “It’s really easy to make, too, with dry gin, lime juice, and soda water.