The history of cocktails is filled with amusing stories and legends that have been around for centuries now.
The word cocktail was first documented in publications between 1795 and 1803.
It was on 13th May 1806 that the first documented use of the word cocktail was published in a New York newspaper, the Balance, and Columbian repository, edited by Harry Crosswell.
However, there are no clear indication of the origin of the word and thus, the origin of the term cocktail will remain shrouded in mystery forever.
Cocktail is the art of mixing drinks with non-alcoholic ingredients, and ginger has traditionally been the most important and, the most used ingredient of a cocktail, since the very early days of mixed drinks.
Ginger and pepper infusions had another reason beyond just adding taste to a drink, they were historically common ingredients used to pep up an alcoholic drink and at some point, adding these ingredients alone to a spirit, would qualify the drink as a cocktail.
Drink mixers bartenders innkeepers started expanding and experimenting and being more creative. Bitters were usually high proof alcohol infused with fruits, spices, leaves, barks, roots and herbs, these were collectively referred to as botanicas.
The Prohibition Era in the America
In around 1919, USA was going through prohibition, and naturally, the practice and popularity of cocktails took a hit. Alcohol trade ran underground and into the hands of the mafia, we all remember that the rise of Al Capone was on casks of illegally brewed and sold alcohol.
The rise of speakeasies, the illicit alcohol trade changed the way Americans were drinking alcohol, and it mattered since the American consumption culture played a major role in the history of cocktails, Europeans and the Brits never really warmed up to cocktails.
This is the period when mixed drinks, or other alcohols became what it is today.
Poor Quality leads to more mixing
What happened next was interesting, despite the prohibitions, the organised crime kept producing spirits but, the quality of these illegally produced spirits were so bad and they tasted so awful that once again the necessity to mix the spirit with bitters and juices arose, and this new wave of cocktail reached every home.
Whatever the truth is behind the origin of cocktails, it is certain that these were the days when the modern cocktail became the tradition that it is today and became the art of mixing and creating heady concoctions that often cross the boundary of taste and indulge into the space of visuals and now it has already crossed the boundary of clubs, pubs and have reached homes of the rich where people were mixing exotic cocktails for guests at their parties.
Please Note All Recipes and Articles on this site are for entertainment and general information only. None of it is to be considered final or absolutely correct or medical in nature.
All photos used are representative and don't reflect the actual look of a cocktail. Photos sourced from Free Photo Sources, FreePik and Unsplash.