The Interesting Story Behind the Invention of Cocktails

Mar 18, 2016 07:15 AM EDT | By Sneha Susan John

Cocktails have become so part of our social culture that we have taken ownership of them. Though most people assume that America was behind the invention of cocktails, the history actually traces back to Europe.

In fact, if you browse the Internet,  you will witness many different versions of the history of cocktails.

The British invented mixology way before the Americans but did not refer it to as cocktails. According to colloquial terms of Europe, the cocktail was called ginger. 

Though mixing drinks was common in Britain, America reinvented and customized mixing of drinks and introduced the modern day cocktails that we relish. The earliest use of the word cocktail is found in print in 1806 in an upstate New York newspaper.

In 1919, the prohibition of the sale of alcohol resulted in many illegal factories. At such spaces, alcohol was badly done and awful. During this phase in American history, speakeasies - the Bars with restaurants and clubs, became quite a thing. Bartenders mixed alcohol with other ingredients like creams and juices to hide it from the laws and to change the taste of alcohol so that the police wouldn't catch them. However, such mixed drinks and cocktails became quite popular in America. After the Prohibition ended in 1933, bartenders continued to experiment with spirits and liquors. This brought about the invention of many more new and interesting cocktails.

During the 1900's, cocktails were not such a huge thing. It is in the '70s that cocktails started gaining popularity. This was because America encountered a phase were people were experimenting with many new and different concepts, especially new kinds of drinks such as flavored vodkas. The oldest cocktail recipe is traced back to 1831. It is said that Captain J.E. Alexander discusses a mix of gin, brandy or rum one part of which is to be mixed with two parts of water and enhanced with sugar and nutmeg.

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