Leatherneck Cocktail – Original 1940s Frank Farrell Recipe

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The Leatherneck Cocktail History

The Leatherneck was invented shortly after WWII by former Marine Frank Farrell. While working at the New World Telegram as a columnist, Frank Farrell invented this fatigue green colored variation of a whiskey sour/sidecar and named it after the Marine Corp’s nickname. Because of its color it’s a strange looking cocktail, but it’s actually really good. The leatherneck easily holds its own against other more pretentious drinks.

Orange Liqueur Vs. Curacao Vs. Triple Sec

Orange liqueur, triple sec and curacao are all the same product. They are all orange liqueurs. The reason for the different names is purely marketing and product differentiation. The Dutch first started producing orange liqueur using laraha oranges from the Caribbean island of Curacao somewhere in the 17th century. Sometime later several French companies began producing orange liqueur too, and to make their product sound more exotic, bols (the Dutch brand) began marketing theirs as Orange Curacao. In the 1850s Cointreau came on to the scene and began selling their premium dry orange liqueur. Cointreau advertised their base spirit (brandy) was filtered 3 times for clarity and neutralness to give their product a very clean crisp orange flavor. They called their product “Triple Sec” which translates into English as three times dry. Cheap competitor quickly copied their branding and began calling their orange liqueurs triple sec too. Cointreau later deemed the name triple sec had become chavey/tarnished and changed it back to simply orange liqueur. In an already confusing and oversaturated market, dyes were added to make ones product stand out on the self next to other bottles. That is the reason why orange liqueur goes by 3 different names and comes in every color of the spectrum.

Do I Have To Use Blue Curacao

Specific to this cocktail, the leatherneck gets its color from the use of blue orange liqueur/blue curacao. For clarification on the difference read my history of orange liqueur above. If you do not have blue curacao then sub it with clear orange liqueur and half a drop of blue food coloring in each drink will work just fine.

The Leather Neck Collar

The name leatherneck is a slang term for a US Marine. The use of a leather neck collar dates back to the original Continental Marine uniform used during the American colonial period. It was essentially the same as the royal marine uniform used by the British other than the colors. American colonist were technically British citizens and share many of the same customs and products. This included their military uniforms. American’s differentiated their uniforms by making them blue instead of the normal British red. One of these British carryovers was the decorative stiff leather collar worn to keep the soldiers head straight and high. Despite tales of it being used to protect a soldier from getting stabbed in the neck, it was mostly decorative and used to elevate the image of both the Royal Marines and Continental Marines by making the men look more impressive.

Marines began to be referred to as leathernecks around the time of the reformation of the Marines Corps in 1798 as their new uniform clung to tradition and still incorporated the old British leather collar. In fact the leather collar lasted until 1872 when it was finally removed from the uniform. The uniforms leather collar was so tied to the image of the Marine Corps that is survived the 1833, 1839 and 1859 uniform revisions. Today the leather collar is symbolically represented in the high stiff collar of the Marine formal graduation jacket.


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Leatherneck Cocktail – Original Frank Farrell 1940s Recipe

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






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Learn how to make a classic Leatherneck cocktail.


  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice

  • 1/2 oz Blue Orange Liqueur

  • 2 oz Bourbon


  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker and add 1 drop of blue food dye if you do not have blue orange Liqueur.
  • Add ice to the shaker. Vigorously shake the ingredients till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards.


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