Friday Happy Hour: The Stone Fence

This is a very simple, three hundred year-old drink, just updated a bit with the addition of bitters. The Stone Fence pre-dates the United States, made by colonial farmers with what they had easily at hand: apple cider from their orchards and rye from their fields. Rye was the grain and drink of choice until settlers made their way into the Kentucky Valley, discovered they could grow more corn there than they could ever eat, and made bourbon into America’s spirit.  This is an old drink, but don’t dismiss it as an antique: this is the sort of drink that wins battles.


Read below for the full recipe!

The Stone Fence

2 oz Rye Whiskey
Apple Cider
2 Dashes Angostura or Aromatic Bitters


Combine the whiskey and bitters in a highball glass filled with ice, then fill to the top with apple cider and give it a stir.  Garnish with a bunch of bruised mint leaves and enjoy. 


Bourbon works here, and dark rum would be historically accurate too (rum probably predated rye in the Stone Fence), but the spiciness of the rye is a nice balance to the sweetness of the cider.  If you want to really recreate the original version of the drink, use hard cider (just drink this one carefully).  The result is a drink that is sweet, tart, spicy, and as refreshing on a summer day as it is warming on a cold New England night.


So here’s the bit about winning battles: on the morning of May 10th, 1775, Ethan Allen led 83 of Vermont’s Green Mountain Boys to capture Fort Ticonderoga from the English.  Allen’s plan?  Rush into the fort and see what happens.  The lone sentry fled, the Green Mountain Boys began rounding up the sleeping English soldiers, and Allen charged into the officers’ quarters.  Allegedly a giant of a man, he demanded they surrender “in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!”  At least, that’s the legend.  The English promptly surrendered and no one died.  Where did they get their courage to charge into the fort, guarded by professional English soldiers backed by canons, and audaciously demand its surrender?  Allen and his Boys were up all night on the 9th planning the attack and drinking Stone Fences.  A few hours later, on the morning of the 10th, they were almost certainly still drunk out of their minds.  Allen’s men then looted all of the fort’s liquor and probably kept on drinking.  So goes history.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

  1. The history bits are my favorite part of your cocktail posts, and this one certainly did not disappoint. Love it!

  2. What a cool name for a drink – The Stone Fence. I love it! Have you ever tried your hand at making your own bitters? I wonder how something like that would fare in this drink…

  3. As always, I’m really grateful to hear that you guys are enjoying these posts (even the dorky history bits). I haven’t tried making my own bitters, but it’s on my to-do list and I hope to be able to post about it if it works.

    Cheers everyone!

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