Coow Woow: Allegedly, America’s First Mixed Drink

Discover this potent and historical cocktail. Perfect for cold, New England nights, and easy to mix according to Bruce Tretter’s directions, all in pictures.

It’s tough to get a verifiable historical handle on this drink, but one of my favorite cycling destinations, Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts (shown below), claims that the Coow Woow (pronounced “coo woo”) “was found to be the first mixed drink in this country (US)—dating back to the early days of 1664.”

According to recipes I’ve found, this drink is made with 2 parts white rum and 1 part ginger brandy. I like the flavor of the drink better with 3 parts white rum and 2 parts ginger brandy because it gives the drink a slightly stronger ginger flavor. No matter what ratio you use when you mix the drink, this is one potent drink—all alcohol, no mixers.

And, although traditional recipes for this drink call for shaking the drink with ice and then straining the chilled drink into a glass without the ice, I make the drink the way I had it at the Wayside. I chill the rum and ginger brandy in the freezer—and do the same with the cocktail glass as shown below—for the coldest possible drink.

Preparation Time: 1 minute

(for at least one very strong drink or two similarly strong but less full drinks)

3 Ounces Chilled White Rum
2 Ounces Chilled Ginger Brandy
Measuring Glass or Measuring Cup
Long Spoon
Chilled Cocktail Glass(es)

Add 3 ounces chilled white rum to a measuring glass or measuring cup.

2. Add 2 ounces chilled ginger brandy.

3. Stir the drink gently with a long spoon,…

…pour the drink into one or two chilled cocktail glasses…

… and enjoy—carefully!

See more cocktail recipes in Food on The Good Life.

Images courtesy of Bruce Tretter

About Bruce Tretter

Bruce Tretter helps people feel comfortable making practical, flavorful and quick & easy meals for themselves---even if they’ve never boiled water---through Gotta’ Eat, Can’t Cook step-by-step picture book and short video directions. He’s a father of 3, Former Naval Intelligence Officer, current school board member, and avid cyclist.


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