The buck is a style of cocktail that is defined as containing a spirit, citrus and either ginger ale or ginger beer. It’s believed that the name stems from the Horse’s Neck, which was traditionally a glass of nonalcoholic ginger ale. Adding liquor to the drink became known as a “buck” because it contained a kick. Bucks are refreshing and endlessly customizable, hence their popularity behind bars and with drinkers.
The first bucks date to the mid-1800s and were typically spiked with whiskey, but any spirit works. If you’ve ever had a Moscow Mule (vodka) or a Dark ’n Stormy (rum), you’ve had a buck, while other examples may contain brandy, tequila and even aquavit.
The Gin Buck, of course, calls for gin. The simple, sweet and bubbly drink was a popular summer cooler during the Roaring ’20s and into the ’40s. Today, the Gin Buck is overshadowed by whiskey-based bucks and Moscow Mules, but it deserves a place on your to-drink list, especially when the weather’s warm and you want a quaffable option for drinking outdoors.
Despite its simplicity, the Gin Buck still offers opportunities to be tailored to your tastes. Start with the gin. A drier bottle that predominately showcases juniper will provide a different experience than one that is softer with more citrus. Then there’s the ginger. Ginger beer is spicier and bolder than ginger ale and more akin to what people were drinking a century ago. Both options make tasty cocktails, so try both to see which you prefer.
Finally, you need fruit. Lemon and lime juice work great, so again it comes down to personal preference. Match your garnish to your juice, and you’re done. Fortunately, the delicious Gin Buck in your hand is easy to replicate, should you require a refill or receive jealous glances from thirsty friends.
Click Play to See This Gin Buck Recipe Come Together
1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce lemon or lime juice, freshly squeezed
Ginger ale or ginger beer, to top
Garnish: lemon or lime wedge
Fill a Collins glass with ice, then add the gin and lemon or lime juice.
Top with ginger ale (or ginger beer) and stir briefly to combine.
Garnish with a lemon or lime wedge.