History of Cocktail Culture

 

For as long as people have been drinking Alcohol, they have been mixing drinks. This dates back at least 10,000 years. From beer spiked with intoxicants to Wine infused with Thyme, it’s fair to say that the desire both to increase mood-altering effects of booze and to improve the taste have been with the human race for millennia and it doesn’t seem to be leaving us quickly. It used to be that cocktails were for girls and rich men who bought them for girls who liked rich men.

Things have changed, for the better! A cocktail in hand is a must, lets look into how we got to be in this great cocktail age we now live in.

 

A long time ago.

The arrival of sugar opened up a new era for producing drinks. By medieval times the rich were spicing up their ales with sugars & spices from the Middle East, where sugar originates from (India). In fact they loved sugar so much that women would regularly blacken their own teeth in order to give the impression that they could afford so much sugar that their teeth were rotten. so any excuse for adding extra sugar was snapped up by these medieval hipsters in the form of drinks.

 

Fast forward…

By Shakespearean times mixing drinks was big news. Probably the most enduring cocktail produced found its origins in India –

Punch. Based on 5 ingredients, Spirit, Sugar, Water, Citrus juice & spices. Crudely similar to the cocktails of today… It made it sway into the theater culture and cocktail drinking was worn as a badge of honour when impressing socially.

 

Fast forward…

At the turn of the 19th century, just as the word cocktail was making it’s print debut, many significant developments were also made. such as by 1800 Ice became for sale in America. A big plus for the bartender.

In the middle of the 19th Century in North America the production of other spirits and liqueurs began. Among the immigrants were people from all over Europe who implemented their knowledge of distillation in their new home. The world needs immigrants.

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Around the turn of the century, the American Bar was already an integral part of life in American society. The import routes from Old Europe worked, and many spirits came into the country, and with it came the American enjoyment and pleasure of experimentation with nothing standing in the way. There were countless cocktails invented, many of which died a death, but some became world famous.

in 1967 Artificial Carbonation was achieved & refrigeration arrived on the scene. These are all developments which aided the cocktail to be brought to a mass global market, and from then it’s popularity became infinitely expandable.

For me the link as always been between cocktails and the fashion of the day. James Bond drinks Martinis (Vespers to be exact) and girls wearing ‘cocktail’ dresses. Young desirable couples on their way to cocktail parties etc… etc…

 

Put simply. Drinking a cocktail makes you look better…

 

(this is very brief and designed to make you look at the drink in front of you and be inspired to find out more)

 

ernest hemmingway

Because everyone wants to be Ernest

 

But where does the word ‘cocktail’ come from? comment below with the most plausible in your head.

 

The dictionary should be able to tell us but my guess is that the monk that was doing the writing at the time was too drunk to spell it so gave up as the word Cocktail’s origins are lost according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Some possible Explanations are:

 

Cock-ale was an old English ale, spiced with a ground-up red cockerel mixed in – the word became applied to other drinks (Containing niether of these ingredients) and gained a T.

 

In a Mexican Tavern, English Sailors noticed that mixed drinks were stirred with the root of a plant known as colo de gallo, or in English ‘Cock’s Tail’. The Sailors brought the name to England and thence the US.

 

There are many more suggestions as to the origin of the word. what do you think it originates from?

 

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Joel Mitchell

Having worked within the hospitality trade for over 15 years I've done a lot. From scraping plates to the managing of 150+ staff and regularly creating thousands in revenue per week. My passion is creating a winning team that blows the competition away. There is no greater feeling than seeing the staff's achievements. So share away and let's all be better bartenders.

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