This drink is not only the most popular word in beverage industry culture, it is an entire category of drinks, a specific drink, and a term that is used to describe any beverage served in the glass with the same name. Where to begin? This drink is widely published recently to be first printed in The Balance, and Columbian repository in 1806. “a mixture of spirits of any kind, water, sugar and bitters, vulgarly called a bittered sling.”
This is only partially correct, the paper does mention the word cocktail, twice, but it gives no definition and it referring to the type of racing horse. Seeing as everyone purports this and provides no author or page number to find this on, they were just reaching. Here are the actual printings in this paper:
“The Balance, and Columbian repository: Volume 5 – Page 279 by Ezra Sampson, George Chittenden, Harry Croswell in 1806 A rhyme: “Dictor Hydrophobia, Setjeam Cocktail” and ” Cocktail, in the mean time, surprizes them and snatches Polica away”
It is unclear why they picked this paper, the word cocktail appears long before this in reference to the horse. There are several great stories behind the history of this drink and some are as old as the cocktail itself. One story says it was named after the mispronunciation of the french double-ended egg cup, that was served at apothecaries, this story is one of the most recent and retold in famous new orleans drinks by stanley clisby arthur in 1937.
Another story, far earlier credits the tail feather of a cock, that was then dipped in the “cocktail” mixture and applied to the back of the throat to releave pain. The cocktail was originally used for medical purposes, much as many drinks of the day were.
Another story credits the way a horse’s tail was cocked, this came to be known as cocktail. Many believe today that the Sazerac was the first cocktail, however this is false. Although, the cocktail did come to be known as the sazerac. Let’s look at some facts. First, the Sazerac company did not originally produced rye whiskey, it was Cognac as seen in this publication:
Official record: containing introduction, history of exhibition, … – Page 229 by Melbourne International Exhibition (1880-1881). in 1882
“Sazerac de Forge et Fils, Cognac certificate BRANDY IN CASE, No. 1 COGNAC. Associated Vineyard and Cultivation Co.”
There was a sazerac lying club as seen here:
The Sazerac lying club: a Nevada book – Page 9 by Fred H. Hart in 1878
“The First President. Situated on the main street of the town is a drinking saloon, bearing the sign of “The Sazerac,” after the famous brand of brandy of that name.”
It is likely Sazerac claimed the cocktail for themselves seeing as Brandy Cocktails date to at least 60 years prior as seen here:
The Atlantic magazine: Volume 1 – Page 346 by Robert Charles Sands in 1824
“Every mouth was open with offers of rum-sling, brandy- cocktail, gin-twist, or any other peace-offering which was likely to appease the offended dignitary.”
It is very likely this drink was named after the half bred racing horses named “cocktails”. Not only were horses the primary mode of travel at the time, but several drinks are named after horses as well. Such as we see with the “Horse’s neck and Old-fashioned which was named after the famous racing mare “Fashion”.
This drink dates between 1811 – 1820 and contained at least as of then:
Stir these ingredients:
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.