twelve mile limit cocktail

Twelve Mile Limit

  • Spicy
  • Refreshing
  • Boozy
  • Rum
  • Rye Whiskey
  • Brandy
  • Grenadine
  • Lemon

With three different spirits swirling in a Twelve Mile Limit, it’s sure to make waves when you knock one back. The five ingredients might make it appear a more complicated cocktail than the others. However, this is another inventive riff on the classic Sour recipe: spirit, citrus, and sweetener. It also may seem like overload on the booze, but the total spirit content adds up to roughly the same as several other of the single-spirit cocktails. The result is a cocktail that uses the refreshing bite of lemon juice to highlight the best qualities of its trio of liquors.

About the Recipe

They may seem trivial and often funny, but the names of cocktails reflect the history and culture surrounding the bartenders who dreamed them up. The evolution from one recipe to another can tell a story with a surprising amount of depth. For the origin of the name Twelve Mile Limit, it’s time to sail out to sea.

Cocktail History

One of the most difficult parts of Prohibition enforcement was the immense amount of coastline to patrol for smugglers. These enterprising criminals could purchase loads upon loads of liquor, legally, in Europe, the Caribbean, and Canada, and have their choice of docks all up and down the coast. If you got the word out well enough, you didn’t even have to come into port!

Many rumrunners anchored their boats offshore, outside of federal jurisdiction, and operated as a floating liquor store or party boat. For most of the country’s history, the demarcation for that jurisdiction was three miles offshore. Some say the distance was based off the range of contemporary cannonballs so it made sense as a way to denote the boundaries of territorial waters.

Thus, the three-mile limit was born. Bartenders and distillers love few things more than being tongue-in-cheek by naming their cocktails and brands after the people and measures dedicated to shutting down their industry. Carry Nation, Billy Sunday, and the WCTU’s Frances Willard have all had bars, distilleries, and cocktails named in their “honor” over the years. Mocking the attempt to keep out smugglers, a cocktail called the “Three Mile Limit” appeared in Harry McElhone’s 1927 book Barflies & Cocktails and it reappeared as the “Three Miller” in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

So, what’s the “twelve” all about? As years of failed enforcement went by, the government grew frustrated with the dulled effect of the three-mile limit. It was simply too convenient to shore. When they proposed boosting the limit to twelve miles, they were promptly taunted with a new honorary cocktail, the Twelve Mile Limit.

When they proposed boosting the limit to twelve miles, they were promptly taunted with a new honorary cocktail, the Twelve Mile Limit.

Luckily, you don’t have to bootleg your own rum, rye, and brandy for this concoction. Simply, anchor yourself at a table and enjoy your very own Twelve Mile Limit.