A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 07, 2007
Cowboy Cocktail (whiskey)

A “cowboy cocktail” is simply whiskey—any whiskey on hand will do. The 2000 book Cowboy Cocktails publicized the term, and now it applies to whatever the establishment wants to call a drink.


Google Books
Cowboy Cocktails: Boot-Scootin’ Beverages and Tasty Vittles from the Wild West
by Grady Spears and Brigit Legere Binns
New York, NY: Ten Speed Press
2000
Pg. 37:
Remember that back in the day, the quintessential “cowboy cocktail” was a shot of whiskey in a dirty glass. It might have been home brew, rot gut, or “panther piss,” but to a thirsty cowboy, a shot of whiskey was as welcome as a pardon to a lifer.

Google Books
Dictionary of the West:
Over 5,000 Terms and Expressions from Aarigaa! to Zopilote
by Win Blevins
Seattle, WA: Sasquatch Books
2001
Pg. 103:
COWBOY COCKTAIL Whiskey neat (straight).

Google Books
The Wordsworth Dictionary of Drink
by Ned Halley
London: Wordsworth Editions
2005
Pg. 170:
Cowboy Cocktail. Over ice shake 2 parts rye whiskey, 1 fresh cream. Strain into crushed-ice-filled glass.

Google Groups: rec.equestrian
From:  mckay003
Date:  Fri, Feb 3 1995 4:21 pm

definition: Cowboy cocktail = straight whiskey

9 December 1935, Helena (MT) Daily Independent, pg. 14, col. 1:
“COWBOY COCKTAILS

While Dr. Morris Fishbein, who is writing a series of articles for The Independent about the “Truth in Diet,” is explaining the various effects of food on the human hay-burner, he has an opportunity to explain the delights or the terrors of the “Cowboy Cocktail.”

Charles M. Russell, Montana painter, frequently, used this mixture and declared it was the only safe way to drink hard liquor. The famous artist would take a drink of good whiskey and a glass of cooling, sweet milk for a chaser, and he lived to a rather advanced age as Montana men of that day went.

Now comes the Bureau of Milk Publicity for the State of New York, and in a series of advertisements, all of which are headed “Alkalize With Milk,” and one learns from these advertisements that “milk has a definite alkaline effect.”

Says this dairy bureau “drink a glass at night—another in the morning—and alkaline naturally. Milk works like a charm after over-work and OVER-INDULGENCE.”

In other words, milk is like a certain charged water which is so widely advertised as keeping people on the alkaline side. Only the State of New York says it better. “It brings you right back to par,” is the claim, and invites people to write for a booklet on “Milk—The Alkalizer.”

Now, Charlie Russell must have discovered that secret. A chaser of milk after whiskey, rum or brandy, and presto, you are ready for another drink or a day’s work. It’s soothing and refreshing—a natural alkalizer.

So here’s to the Cowboy Cocktail, discovered by Charlie Russell, long before a State of New York had a milk publicity bureau. This drink probably enabled Charlie to see those gorgeous sunsets; those dawns so peaceful and beautiful; the smoke of those campfires which give enchantment to his paintings.

Roundup Recipes
by Bonnie & Ed Peplow
with the help of the Arizona Cowbelles
Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Company
1951
Pg. 266 (Glossary):
COWBOY COCKTAIL: Straight whiskey.

12 December 1954, Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK), “Radio & TV Gag Bag,” tv section, pg. 36, col. 1:
“Cowboy cocktail: One shot and you’re headed for the last roundup.”

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, January 07, 2007 • Permalink