An Excuse to Drink – March 30, 1867: Alaska Purchased From Russia

photo by sushiesque via

March 30, 1867: Alaska is purchased from the Russians by then U.S. Secretary of State, William H. Seward. Having recently fought the British in the Crimean war, Tsarist Russia was eager to sell, fearing that they would lose their stakes on the North American continent in another war, and had been trying to broker a deal since before the U.S. Civil War. Even though the territory (roughly 586,412 square miles) was purchased for around 2 cents an acre, the press soon dubbed the deal “Seward’s Folly”, since in their view, the the United States already possessed more territory than it could populate. Seward would eventually be vindicated when Alaska’s vast mineral and oil wealth was discovered.

Alaska Cocktail

The Savoy Cocktail Book, has this to say about the Alaska Cocktail’s origins:

“So far as can be ascertained this delectable potion is NOT the staple diet of the Esquimaux . It was probably first thought of in South Carolina hence its name.”

For those of you not versed in obscure monikers for native peoples, Esquimaux is just an out-dated term for Eskimos.

The recipe below appears to be based on Embury’s “improved” version of the cocktail, sometimes called the “Nome”. The original omits the sherry.

recipe adapted from

  • 2½ oz London dry gin
  • ¾ oz Chartreuse Yellow liqueur
  • 1 oz fino sherry
  • 3 dashes orange bitters

Read more about the Alaska Cocktail:

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