The Amazing History of Cocktails

The elegance and beauty of a cocktail cannot go without notice. From the fancy glass pieces specific to each kind of drink, to the final touches, each step is a process. Amazing mixtures of liquors and garnishes perfectly complement each other for an overall complete flavor immersion.

The word “Cocktail” was first seen back in 1803 in a Vermont newspaper claiming that cocktails had the ability to cure headaches. Just three years later, the term cocktail was defined as alcoholic drink that consists of spirits mixed with ingredients. Alcohol has been around since the birth of time, but where did the term “cocktail” come from? It is a term that is so common in society, but not many people know where it came from, and with so many different theories, cocktails certainly have an interesting history.

Cocktail Theory One: The French Egg Cup

Some believe the origin of the word cocktail was a mispronunciation of the French word coquetier. A coquetier was remedy created by Antoine Amedee Peychaud, a French apothecary who lived in New Orleans who would mix brandy and bitters in an egg cup (coquetier in French) for his patients. This “remedy” was very similar to what a cocktail is now: a mixture of liquors. New Orleans’ “Sazerac” is often hailed as America’s first cocktail, and is attributed to Antoine and a string of local bar owners. Although, this is just one theory on how the word cocktail came to be.

Cocktail Theory Two: Bottom of the Barrel

Another popular story of where the word cocktail originated is known as the “Dregs Theory”. This is the process of “tailing”, which is when tavern owners would mix the ending of barrel mixtures with other barrels and sell the mixture for a discounted price. The word “cock” refers to the tap of the barrel. When combining both the terms, you get “cock-tailing”, which means the mixture of two alcohols poured out of a barrel. Similar to today’s definition of a cocktail.

Cocktail Theory Three: That Horse Race Feeling

The last common origin story of the word cocktail refers to horse tails. Many race horses had cut down tails, similar to a rooster’s tail. Hence the name cocktail. Race horses were usually were very hyper and active. Another connection to the modern term for cocktail because most drinks get people feeling more upbeat and excited.

The Evolution of the American Cocktail

Cocktails have come a long way and have extended far past just being a drink. Now they can be seen as an art form, and are forever changing. The first signs of cocktails changing from just a drink to much more was during Prohibition in the 1920’s. With liquor outlawed, the quality of alcohol home-brewed or smuggled into the country was quite poor, requiring flavor and sweetness to mask the bad taste.  As time progressed and WWII ended, many of the soldiers brought home ideas and traditions from the Pacific.  This is when the boom of bright colors and interesting flavors really started to take over. As time went on, the popularity grew and more ideas were created, leading to the cocktails that we see today.

Cocktails are a part of history that still has a strong tradition today. The drink mixing world is constantly changing, and is something to be excited about as well. If you are interested in trying or creating a new kind of drink yourself, check out the extensive selection at Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, MA. Then feel free to pick the brains of our staff for a new cocktail recipe to try!

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Sign up for our Weekly eNewsletter and
Save up to 70% with our Online Flash Sales