History of the Cocktail
Monday, April 14, 2014
A cocktail is traditionally defined as a concoction of spirits, sugar, water and bitters. Today, this definition has been broadened to include mixtures that contain at least one alcoholic ingredient, meaning it could be as simple as a vodka and coke.
Of course, we are more interested in the traditional, and what we believe to be, true definition of what makes a cocktail. The history of origin and the art of mixology is something we find very intriguing here at Sydney Bar School, even more so due to the fact that the tales surrounding where cocktails originate from, and how the phrase ‘cocktail’ was coined, differ and contradict each other.
The term ‘cocktail’ was first published in 1803 in a spoof editorial that referenced it as an excellent hangover cure! (Hair of the dog anyone?) The first recipe for a cocktail allegedly came almost 30 years later from Captain J.E. Alexander whose request was for either brandy, gin or rum ... one third of which was to be mixed with two parts water, bitters, sugar and nutmeg.
History of the Name.
There are many stories about where the term ‘cocktail’ came from ... some as long as a Long Island Iced Tea, others as short as a Whisky Sour!
A lot of stories surround the tail of a rooster and how it was either used as a garnish, or the colours of the tail were an influencing factor due to the resemblance found between that and the colours found in the mixture of the drinks.
At the other end of the tail ... sorry, tale ... is that the term stemmed from the name Xochitl, a reference to both an Aztec goddess and a Mexican princess. From one end of the spectrum to another and many different interpretations in between, it’s possible we will never know the true origin of the term! You can read more speculations here however, if anything, they make for an interesting read!
If you want to learn more about the history of cocktails, and (maybe) more importantly, how to create some delicious, taste bud tickling concoctions, our cocktail making class is available for you and your friends or colleagues! Just contact us for more details.