This Chart From The U.S. Government Archives Will Help You Make The Perfect Cocktail

Anyone who has ever mixed a cocktail knows there is a right way and a very, very wrong way to do it. (The rum-to-coke ratio matters, people.) And some vintage instructions regarding the right way to mix cocktails come from a very unlikely source: the U.S. government archives.

Yes, that’s right, the government.

Former Washington Post editor and lover of cocktails, Craig Stoltz, posted a rather interesting diagram on last April. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service created the diagram in 1974 and details exactly how to mix some of the most common cocktails.

(That is, cocktails common in 1974, of course. Gin Rickeys aren’t quite the order of choice these days.)

Before your head starts spinning, wondering why the U.S. government spent money on that, take a closer look at the diagram, and you’ll find it’s actually a prank—a very well-preserved prank!

Signatures on the chart, which is preserved in the National Archives, include “I.P. Freely” and “Jim Beam.” Esquire looked into the backstory of the diagram and it looks to be the clever work of Cleve Colbert “Red” Ketcham, a U.S. Forest Service engineer and WWII Navy veteran.

Department of Agriculture. Forest Service. Region 8 (Southern Region)

The U.S. Forest Service press officer that Esquire spoke to said, “We’re surprised it even made it into the Archives,” and noted that the Archive requirements for preservation have since become much stricter! (Surprising to note: Ketcham wasn’t really a drinker himself.)

Prank or not, the advice is quite useful! By looking at the “details” section of the diagram, you can then figure out the recipes in the drawings.

Here are some cocktail recipes, according to the chart:


daiquiri photo
Flickr | oropeza

  • 1 1/2 oz. rum
  • 3/4 oz. squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • One teaspoon granulated sugar


Manhattan drink photo
Flickr | My Aching Head

(Stir with cracked ice, then remove)

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Italian vermouth
  • One dash angostura bitters
  • One red cherry


vodka orange juice photo
Flickr | bhamsandwich

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • 7 1/2 oz orange juice
  • Two ice cubes



  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • 3/4 oz. French (dry) vermouth
  • One green olive with red center

Stir with cracked ice, then remove.

Rum and Coke (or cola, as listed in the diagram)

Rum and Coke photo
Flickr | ozmafan

  • 1 1/2 oz. rum
  • 10 1/2 oz. cola
  • 16 squeezed lime slices, or two full squeezed limes
  • Three ice cubes

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned drink photo
Flickr | Sam Howzit

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon (roughly 45 milliliters)
  • 6.5 oz. soda
  • One sugar cube
  • One dash of bitters
  • Two ice cubes
  • One red cherry
  • One orange slice on the rim

Have to have a copy of your own “Cocktail Construction: English-Metric”? You can buy a large reprint for $230 or a small 8×10 for $16.99.

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About the Author
Kaitlin Gates
Kaitlin is a freelance multimedia journalist with a degree in journalism and psychology. Along with Simplemost, she also writes for Don't Waste Your Money, where she loves finding great deals to help people save money.

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