Special Report

Iconic Drinks From Every State Everyone Should Try

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New Mexico: Margarita

There are countless stories about the origins of this extremely popular drink of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, dating it from the 1930s or ’40s and ascribing its invention to Baja California, Acapulco, Juárez, and the Texas cities of Houston and Galveston. While New Mexico makes no claim to having invented the drink, it is said to be the state’s most popular cocktail — and Santa Fe has even created a Margarita Trail, allowing the ambitious drinker to sample the some 45 examples of what Tourism Santa Fe calls “the best margaritas in the world.”

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New York: The Manhattan

Considered one of the great classic cocktails, this blend of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters (according to the traditional recipe, anyway) dates from the mid-19th century, when it was first mixed up at a bar or private club somewhere on the island for which it is named. (There is also a Brooklyn Cocktail and a Bronx Cocktail — the latter invented, curiously, in Philadelphia.)

North Carolina: Cheerwine

Actual grape wine, some of it quite good, is made in North Carolina today, but the state’s most popular “wine” isn’t wine at all but this 104-year-old black-cherry-flavored soft drink from the town of Salisbury. The producer also makes Cheerwine ice cream. In 2010, Krispy Kreme even introduced a Cheerwine doughnut, sold for several limited periods.

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North Dakota: North Dakota Special

This north-central state is one of the country’s major whiskey consumers, with Jack Daniel’s being its favorite brand. The origins of the North Dakota Special are unknown, but it certainly speaks to the state’s whiskey cravings. The recipe calls for a shot each of Jack Daniel’s, Wild Turkey bourbon, Black Velvet Canadian whisky, and Southern Comfort, a whiskey-based orange-flavored liqueur, all diluted — but not too much — with Coke.

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Ohio: Bloody Mary

Ohio might not be the first state you think of for tomatoes, but they’ve been grown seriously here since 1870, and there’s an annual Tomato Festival in the town of Reynoldsburg. That’s presumably what inspired the Ohio General Assembly to name tomato juice the state’s official beverage in 1965. It’s hardly surprising that Ohio bartenders have made the Bloody Mary a favorite. There’s even an annual competition, the Bloody Mary Showdown, in Dayton.

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