There has been a recent revival in cocktails, old recipes have resurfaced and new ones have appeared along side of them. To the professional bar person a cocktail is a short drink of 3-4 fl oz. Anything larger would be called a mixed drink. Mixed drinks, both hot and cold, have been on the scene for hundreds of years, but the original cocktail had its beginnings in the prohibition era in the U.S.A.
They were designed to create something drinkable from the mishmash of inferior liquors that were available at the time, but the idea was soon taken up by those who had access to good quality liquor.
When the ban was lifted in 1933 and the standards of liquor improved many of the early cocktails were refined and more created, then the cocktail boom began.
The idea of the cocktail appealed to many other nations, so the cocktail traveled far and wide including England, where here the cocktail hour between 5-30 and 7-30, fitted into the gap left by the decline of afternoon tea. Thus providing a pleasant way of socializing for the younger set to pass the time away before dinner.
The second world war put a stop to this and the cocktail was not taken up again until the late 70s early 80s. Today, cocktails are even more popular than ever. There is a grater range of spirits, many new liqueurs, and a whole new range of mixers from which to choose from, but more importantly today’s cocktail drinker comes from a broader section of the population.
But explaining the origins of the word “cocktails” is not that simple. There are hundreds of myths and different stories about the origin of it. So it is nearly impossible to tell exactly how its name came into popular use. Here are a couple of the more believable legends.
Tavern keepers were want to stored their spirits in casks, whenever a cask got to being empty, the dregs or tailings, would be mixed together into another cask and be sold at a lower price, the drinks would be poured from the spigot, which was referred to as the cock, so anyone wanting the cheaper drink would ask for a cock tailings.
Another believable tale comes from New Orleans, where an apothecary by the name of Peychaud served up a mixed brandy drink in a French eggcup. The drink became known as a “coquetier” the French word for eggcup. Then it got shortened to cocktay and eventually became the cocktail.
We may never find out for sure where the word cocktail originated, but one thing we do know, is, a good cocktail is delicious.