Inventing a cocktail is like having a kid. Conceiving it is the easy part. The challenges come later. And many bartenders will attest that one of the hardest parts of cocktail creation is conjuring the right name. This is, after all, the first interaction drinkers will have with the cocktail, and can impact whether or not the drink will sell. Generally, something short, snappy, and memorable is helpful. A lot of bartenders will refer to pop culture (Paper Plane or Division Bell), a city or place (Moscow Mule or Manhattan), or a common phrase (Bee’s Knees) for inspiration. It’s all good fodder for a good name. On the flip side, it’s best to avoid a name that’s going to make a guest uncomfortable when they say it out loud. No one wants to belly up to the bar and ask for “another round of Ass Juice shots, please.”
Nevertheless, mixologists have assigned heinous names to drinks since the dawn of cocktail culture. Some can be ordered across the globe; others are specific to particular bars. While a lot of these cocktails have faded into obscurity, the recipes are still out there — for better or worse. The following drinks’ names range from the mildly strange all the way to the downright disgusting. So raise your eyebrows in advance as we embark on a journey through the wildest cocktail names throughout history.
In 1984, when DeKuyper began distributing its Peachtree brand peach schnapps in the U.S., bartenders flocked to the sweet liqueur, making quick work to incorporate it in their kitschy, disco-era drinks. One such mixologist (and author) was Ray Foley of New Jersey. Foley mixed equal parts Peachtree and orange juice, to make a fruitier, less boozy Screwdriver. “Fuzzy” is a nod to the peach component, and “navel” is a reference to navel oranges. For those who want a little more booze in their drink, there’s the Hairy Navel, which employs vodka in addition to peach schnapps.
Liquid Marijuana Shot
There’s no THC in this bad boy, but don’t let that disappoint you. This bright green and rather complex shot blends equal parts spiced rum, coconut rum, blue curaçao, Midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup. A lot of its components dwell in the lower ABV end of the spectrum, so it’s not as volatile as it sounds. There’s very little info available on this shot’s origin, but a couple sources claim it was born on the West Coast in the heyday of hippies and the “free love” movement. Allegedly, Jimi Hendrix enjoyed the Liquid Marijuana Shot from time to time, but there’s no hard evidence to back that claim up. These days, the drink lives on as a party shot, occasionally appearing on nightclub menus.
According to Rob Chirico’s “Field Guide to Cocktails,” the origins of the Monkey Gland can be traced back to Harry MacElhone, owner and bartender at the iconic Harry’s New York Bar in 1920s Paris. The name itself comes from a pseudo-scientific idea popularized by a Russian surgeon named Serge Voronoff. The man was an early proponent of transplants long before the medical world knew much about them. He proposed the monkey gland transplant as a way to combat impotence, and boost one’s sex drive, memory, and overall well-being. In 1920, he did his first procedure, and it seemed to work. Thousands of patients would go on to receive the surgery over the next few decades. But by the ‘40s, scientists realized it was all placebo, and Voronoff’s career came to an end. Regardless, a cocktail recipe never dies, so this blend of absinthe, gin, orange juice, and grenadine lives on in the books.
The Egyptian-born Suffering Bastard came out of Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel in 1942. Bartender Joe Scialom was allegedly experimenting with potential hangover cures for troops during World War II, before settling on a mix of brandy, gin, lime juice, bitters, and ginger beer. Shepheard’s Hotel tragically burned down during the Cairo Fire riots of 1952, and the cocktail was later adopted by tiki culture, with rum-based variants emerging in the ‘60s. That said, the original holds up and remains a great remedy for any suffering souls out there.
A Lonely Island Lost in the Middle of a Foggy Sea
This one gets a category of its own. Clocking in at a whopping 11 words and 15 syllables, A Lonely Island Lost in the Middle of a Foggy Sea is a tiki cocktail by Paul McGee of Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash. Coined sometime in the 2010s, this drink sees rhum agricole, black strap rum, aged rum, pineapple juice, Demerara syrup, lime juice, and cold brew coffee in the same cup.
On page 70 of writer and bartender Jacob A. Didier’s 1909 book “The Reminder: An Up-to-Date Bartenders’ Vest Pocket Guide,” there are three angel-themed cocktails. There’s the Angels’ Breath, the Angels’ Wing, and — yes — the Angels’ Tit. We’ll let you decide if that’s where your mind goes to for a cocktail that includes cream, crème de cocoa, and crème Yvette.
The Slippery Nipple was invented sometime in the ‘70s or ‘80s, but there’s no evidence that points to a person or place responsible for it. It’s a layered shot starting with an optional base of grenadine, then sambuca, and topped with Irish cream liqueur. The Slippery Nipple shot gets a bad rap for being too sweet, and it was famously bashed by food and drinks writer William Grimes in his 2001 book “Straight Up or On the Rocks.” For those willing to partake, however, it’s worth trying fellow shots the Buttery Nipple (with butterscotch schnapps) and the Fuzzy Nipple (with peach schnapps).
Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall
This disco-era cocktail contains sloe gin (Slow), Southern Comfort (Comfortable), vodka, orange juice (Screw, as in Screwdriver), and Galliano (Against the Wall, as in Harvey Wallbanger). As absurd cocktail names go, it’s kind of poetic and well played. There’s also the Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall with a Kiss, which includes a splash of Amaretto on top.
This original specialty shot from the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas is a blend of “House-made Demon Whiskey, pineapple juice, & coco cream,” and I can say from personal experience it’s f*cking delicious. Spelling saves the day here, but it still doesn’t feel great to shout an order of these from across the bar.
Rocky Mountain Bearf*cker Shot
The general consensus is that bears are not to be f*cked with, but we guess Rocky Mountain bears are an exception. This shot, consisting of tequila, Jack Daniel’s, and Southern Comfort, emerged somewhere out of Western Canada or the Northwestern U.S., but unfortunately, we can’t credit it to a known creator.
The Downright Disgusting
Jacques Straub was a Swiss-born man of class, one of the foremost wine and spirits experts of the early 20th century, and the beverage director of both the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Ky., and the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. In 1913, he published “Straub’s Manual of Mixed Drinks,” which cataloged countless cocktails, ranging from well-known classics to more obscure pre-Prohibition concoctions that got lost with time. In the “Miscellaneous” section of his guide, sandwiched between the De Luxe Bracer and the Dog Days cocktail, is the Diarrhea Mixture, a blend of Jamaica ginger extract, blackberry brandy, “good brandy,” and peppermint with a nutmeg garnish. We’re not sure what possessed Straub to name the cocktail as such, and to be honest, we don’t really want to find out.
Duck Fart Shot
An Alaskan original, the Duck Fart Shot is a mix of coffee liqueur, Irish cream liqueur, and Canadian whisky. The name is a bit of a mystery, but the drink was invented in 1987 at the Peanut Farm, a sports bar in Anchorage. The Duck Fart Shot is not currently listed on the bar’s menu, but we assume they’ll be happy to pour one.
Oh, Ass Juice: the crown jewel of dive bar shots. This one came out of Las Vegas’s Double Down Saloon in the ‘90s, though they now have a second location in NYC’s East Village for anyone in the Tri-State who cares to try this concoction. The recipe is kept under lock and key, but we do know that vodka is somewhere in the mix. Arguably, the most absurd part about this drink is its pricing: one shot is $4; two is $9. Go figure.