What ever happened to cocktails? When did a trip to the bar devolve into listening to loud, dance music and being served small amounts of alcohol in glasses of ice and syrupy mixers? There’s no exact proof when this problem began, but it can likely be tied to the idea that margaritas should be sweet and that slushee machines have a place in a bar.
Good news! All’s not lost. Here are 9 iconic cocktails and the stories behind them.
1. Long Island Iced Tea
Vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, sour mix, and a splash of coke; these are the ingredients that make up the Long Island Iced Tea. In spite of the fact that this combination of spirits seems like was invented as a fraternity party, drinking challenge, it was actually invented by humorously monikered bartender, Rosebud Butt.
Interestingly enough, the cocktail was actually invented on Long Island, and it’s only been around since 1976. One of the reasons for the drink’s popularity, other than its potency, is the fact that it goes down relatively easily in spite of a serious booze to mixer ratio.
When someone orders a Long Island Tea, there’s little doubt what their end goal is. The Cosmo, on the other hand, is a completely different story. This cocktail, frequently featured in Sex and The City, brings something different to the table. It’s fruity, decidedly feminine, but still quite potent. This cocktail involves vodka, cranberry juice, fresh lime juice, and triple sec shaken until chilled and then strained and served with an orange twist.
It also differs from the Long Island Iced Tea in that nobody is 100 percent sure of its origin. Was the drink born in a gay bar in Massachusetts? Did it originate in South Beach or Manhattan? Nobody really knows.
3. Tom Collins
The Tom Collins is essentially the end result of a 19th century, snipe hunt for the drinking set. Pranksters would inform drinkers out on the town that a certain Tom Collins had been saying awful things about them. This would send folks, who were often drunk and looking for conflict, on a wild goose chase to find Tom Collins and straighten him out. Unfortunately for them, there was no Tom Collins.
Eventually, some smart bartender got the idea to create a gin based cocktail with the same name. This gave angry revelers looking for Tom Collins the opportunity to find him. It’s imaginable that for some, the drink served as a means of cooling off. For others, it likely become fueled the kind of behavior that would get someone like Tom Collins spouting off at the mouth.
The Kir is a French appertif made of creme de cassis (liqueur made from black currants) that has been capped off with dry, white wine. The drink is named after Felix Kir who was the mayor of Dijon, France from the mid forties to the late sixties. Kir did not invent the drink, but he was such a huge fan that when he entertained he would always offer up this cocktail.
In fact, he became so associated with this cocktail that bartenders soon began referring to the cocktail using his name. It’s not a very potent cocktail, but it is tasty and welcoming. Considering that Kir himself invented the concept of twinning, that really doesn’t come as a surprise.
5. Moscow Mule
The Moscow Mule, famously served in a copper cup was not invented in Russia. It was actually developed on the Sunset Strip. Its birthplace was the Cock and Bull pub. A liquor distributor named John Martin had a supply of poorly selling vodka he wanted to get rid of. One night, he spent some time at the Cock and Bull with the owner Jack Morgan.
According to legend, the two came up with the idea of combining the vodka with the pub’s ginger beer. The two men tweaked the recipe until they had created the perfect Moscow Mule. The drink is traditionally served in a copper mug, and there is a bit of marketing behind that. However, the mug is also functional as it keeps the drink at an optimal temperature.
6. Bloody Mary
The Bloody Mary is a mixologists favorite. After all, how many drinks give cocktail makers the opportunity to experiment with such a wide variety of flavor profiles? Infusions and additions to this vodka and tomato juice based cocktail include:
- Liquid Smoke
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Celery and Celery Salt
- Smoked Salt
There are also variations that replace the traditional vodka with gin.
The drink was most likely invented by a restaurant owner in the early 20th century. However, one of the more popular explanations claims that the drink is a dark tribute to Queen Mary and her brutal, violent efforts to re-establish Catholicism as the official religion of England. It might also be a hangover cure.
For many people, Martini is any combination of spirits and flavorings that has been shaken with ice, then strained into a glass that resembles an inverted pyramid with a round bottom. Those people are wrong, and they should be ashamed of themselves. A martini is a mixture of gin (lots!) and dry vermouth (little). In spite of James Bond’s famous line, it really should be stirred instead of shaken.
Unfortunately, in spite of the controversy around the best way to make a martini, there’s no exact evidence indicating where the Martini was invented. Some people claim that it was a drink created by Italian Vermouth producers Martini And Rossi.
The Mojito is made of rum, sugar, lime juice, and soda. The ingredients are simple, and there is absolutely no doubt that this is a cocktail that was invented in Cuba. In fact, that might explain its popularity in areas such as South Florida. It’s also a drink that was historically popular among sailors. Many suppose that the citrus in the mojito helped to combat scurvy. The other ingredients were probably already on board as ships moved cane sugar and rum from Caribbean islands to the mainland United States.
Before you could go to the liquor aisle of your local grocery store and pick from sweet, vodka flavorings ranging from bubblegum to whipped cream, one of the most popular drinks for first time drinkers was the Screwdriver. Served in a short glass, it is sweet, citrusy, and a little bit potent. Served tall, it’s a glorified glass of OJ with a little bit of a kick. One of the most popular stories behind this drink’s origin is that blue collar workers would sneak vodka into their thermoses and stir the drinks with their screwdrivers. Others say that it was invented to help popularize Smirnoff vodka.