Born in Lawrence, Kansas and transformed in Kansas City, Missouri, the essential basics of the Horsefeather include a ginger element, lemon juice or peel, dashes of bitters and whiskey. Its earliest mention by name “Horse Feathers” can be found in Gary Regan’s The Bartender’s Bible (1991) with a recipe of blended whiskey, ginger ale, and bitters.
Many locals attribute its birth to The Paradise Café, formerly found on history-rich Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kansas. As the tale goes, the bartenders from Paradise carried the recipe with them to new locations and so spread the delectable Horsefeather.
Others point to an even older drink – the Bradley-Martin Highball. Mentioned in an 1898 Kansas City Star article, this recipe called for lemon peel, a jig of whiskey, orange bitters, and ginger ale. (There is even rumor that this drink may have been made with the original Riegers Monogram Whiskey!)
The J. Rieger Horsefeather Recipe:
1 ½ oz Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey
4 oz Ginger Beer (J Rieger uses Cock ’n Bull)
5 heavy dash bitters
Combine and garnish with a lemon wedge.
Regardless of ancestral pedigree, the Horsefeather was born in Lawrence and found its way to Kansas City’s East Bottoms and the Electric Park neighborhood home of modern-day J. Rieger and Co. where for some fine-tuning.
This spicy, citrusy cocktail has since been perfected by the expert mixologists at J. Rieger & Co. Reminiscent of a Moscow Mule, the Horsefeather became a Kansas City favorite after switching from Old Overholt rye whiskey to J. Rieger Kansas City Whiskey – a blend of straight bourbon, light corn, and straight rye whiskeys. Ready to try this tangy, flavorful concoction for yourself – try the recipe from above yourself!
Kansas City’s newest upscale home of luxury lodging, Loew’s Hotel, even features an incredible 7th floor indoor/outdoor bar called “Horsefeather Social.” This classy terrace bar serves perfectly as a tribute to the history of Kansas City’s iconic drink and a toast to the future of Kansas City’s class and love for the Horsefeather – and the bartenders there will gladly mix one up one of their finest for your drinking pleasure!