Hot Ham Water Cocktail

Anniversary of the first spam

Your cocktail calendar entry for: May
1 Comment

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May 3 is the anniversary of the first spam email ever sent so we’re mixing up the Hot Ham Water cocktail to mark the occasion.  It’s also National Lumpy Rug Day so we were faced with tough choices here at The Drunkard’s Almanac.  So we went with where we could lend a hand.  Spam you can delete but we’re not sure what to do about lumpy rugs.  The Hot Ham Water fits in the family of Negroni variations, a good thing of itself.  The fact that is has a bacon garnish only makes it more delicious.

Spam Email

The first spam email came in 1978.  That’s before it was even called email and the internet as we know it did not yet exist.  Back then there was just the ARPANET.  It was the first wide-area packet-switched computer network and one of the first to use the TCP/IP protocol.  The ARPANET was neither commercial nor for entertainment.  Its purpose was to link universities and other research entities to share computer science results and allow access to the few powerful computers available at the time.

So on May 3, 1978 an advertisement for Digital Equipment Corporation was sent to all west coast users by Gary Thuerk, a marketer working there.  The reaction was swift and negative.

It didn’t occur again for a while, until 1993 when a user accidentally posted 200 messages to a Usenet newsgroup network.  In the aftermath readers were making jokes about it and one referred to the messages as “spam.”  Obviously the name stuck, though we’re unclear on why it was named after the world’s most popular canned meat.

By 1994 the first large, deliberate spam happened when a message titled “Global Alert for All:  Jesus is Coming Soon” went to every newsgroup.  This was followed by two lawyers who hired a programmer to post their “Green Card Lottery – Final One” message as widely as possible.  They were proud of their achievement, considering it great marketing – and went on to write a book entitled “How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway:  Everyone’s Guerrilla Guide to Marketing on the Internet and Other On-Line Services.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people must have read the book.  By 2010 an estimated 107 trillion pieces of spam email were sent each year.  That was about 85% of all email traffic.  Fortunately, by 2017 it was below 40%.

The Hot Ham Water Cocktail

When considering a drink for the world’s first spam our Editorial Board determined the canned variety was much tastier than the email variety.  And it goes back further.  SPAM, usually rendered simply as Spam, emerged in 1937.  The name, of course, is a portmanteau for spiced ham.  Hard to not like that when it’s conveniently distributed in cans.  It’s the flagship of Hormel Foods.  By 2012, the last year they released figures, over eight billion cans had been sold.

In any event, Spam is part ham so that’s enough to make the Hot Ham Water cocktail Drink of the Day.  It was developed by Erica Namare at the now defunct 23Hoyt restaurant in Portland, Oregon around 2013.  The drink was apparently part of a several she created in honor of the TV series Arrested Development.  Your correspondent did not investigate that series further, figuring it might strike too close to home.

The Hot Spam Water fits in the family of Negroni variations, being pretty much a Boulevardier with Cynar stepping in for Campari.  Spice and ham come into the equation through some black peppercorns and a bacon garnish.  The original recipe calls for three dashes of a smoked bacon tincture.  Instructions are provided in the recipe but it’s still a good drink even if you don’t put in that effort.  But we all know everything’s better with bacon so you won’t want to skip that.

hot ham water cocktail

Hot Ham Water Cocktail

From Erica Namare at the now-extinct 23Hoyt restaurant in Portland, OR, the Hot Ham Water does not involve boiling ham. But it does get garnished with bacon, which is always a good idea. It's a Negroni variation - specifically a variation on the Boulevardier - in which Cynar takes the place of Campari. It's further spiced up with some black peppercorns and a smoked bacon tincture, which we find optional for home use.
5 from 1 vote



  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • ¾ oz Punt e Mes Punt e Mes is preferred, but use sweet vermouth if you don't have this one around.
  • ½ oz Cynar
  • 6 Black peppercorns
  • 3 dash Smoked bacon tincture
  • Garnish: bacon or candied bacon


  • Make bacon tincture if you're so inclined. Proceed by frying up some bacon and placing both crisp bacon and rendered fat in a jar with a few ounces of vodka or a whiskey. Shake jar to mix thoroughly and place in freezer. Remove fat cap when it has solidified and strain into small bottle.
  • To mix the drink add all ingredients to your trusty mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir to chill.
  • Strain over ice, preferably a single large cube, in Old Fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with bacon.
  • Drink.
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1 Comment. Leave new

  • RobinS
    May 4, 2023

    5 stars
    I made this last night as I’m a big fan of the quasi-Negroni. It was great, although I had to splash a bit more vermouth as 1.5 oz of bourbon was STRONG. Can’t wait to serve this to my friends


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