Sunday, February 13, 2011

The History of The Cocktail

Cocktails have been around for hundreds of years and yet the origin of the word is very murky with numerous urban legends on exactly where it came from.

One of the interesting stories I've heard is that it comes from a drink - Cock's Ale - that was served at cock fights.   Sounds plausible I thought to myself, so I looked at what Cock's Ale was and I'm afraid I lost my appetite for cocktails!

Cocks Ale

Ale
Chickens
Raisins
Brown Sugar

Ferment all of these ingredients together for 9-12 days.

All I can think of is food poisoning when I read that!

Let's move right along to another legend on the origin of the word cocktail.    Some say it's a mispronunciation of the French word Coquetier.   Now those of you who speak French are probably scratching your head right now thinking 'but coquetier means egg cup - what does that have to do with cocktails.'   Yes it does mean egg cup and the connection with cocktails comes from Antoine Peychaud.

Antoine Peychaud is famous in mixology history as being the creator of the Sazerac cocktail and when he opened his store in New Orleans he served this drink in egg cups.

Sazerac Cocktail

1/2 tsp absinthe
1 tsp simple syrup
4 dashes of bitters (Peychaud Bitters for an authentic flavor)
2 oz rye whiskey
strip of lemon peel

Place the absinthe into an old fashioned glass and swirl around so that the sides are coated and discard excess.   Next add the simple syrup, bitters and whiskey to a mixing glass with ice and stir gently until the drink is chilled.   Now strain the liquid into your old fashioned glass and twist the lemon peel over the glass to release some lemon oil, wipe the peel around the lip of the glass and then drop it into your drink - voila one Sazerac Cocktail ready to drink!

There are several more legends on where the word cocktail originated from, but I doubt we'll ever really know which version is really correct so we might as well just continue to enjoy a cocktail or two without worrying about their history!!

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