The History of Cocktails – Short, Sweet, and Shaken
Everyone at Honest Cocktails is sure you all will agree that an adorable paper umbrella and a wedge of orange may add some life to a drink, but it does not transform a ‘rum and coke’ into a ‘cocktail.’ Neither does adding bottled juice or soda to a shot vodka qualify as a cocktail. We know you are not THAT basic!
What is a Cocktail?
So then, what exactly constitutes a cocktail? There are a few things—mainly spirits, water, sugar, and bitters—and a lot of history. While cocktails are thought of primarily as an American innovation, they were actually partly inspired by British punches of old—imagine big cut crystal bowls of spirits mixed with fruit juice, spices, and other delicious bits, consumed in the aptly named ‘punch houses’ of the 18th century.
The term ‘cocktail’ was first printed in a British newspaper in March of 1798. In 1806, The Balance and Columbian Repository defined the cocktail as “a stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water and bitters…”
The art of bartending was pushed along considerably by a Connecticut-born bartender named Jerry Thomas, known as ‘Professor.’ This cocktail visionary mixed his way across Europe and the US and penned The Bartender’s Guide (or How to Mix Drinks), which became a go-to reference book of mixed drinks that became a favourite of bartenders.
On the Rocks, Please!
The next development in cocktail history was the addition of ice to drinks. For ourselves, it is impossible to imagine a refreshing cocktail served without ice or at least a chill. Before electric refrigeration was even a thing, bartenders were beholden to ice delivery companies which were few and very pricy. The champion of keeping cocktails cold was Frederic ‘Ice King’ Tudor. After many failed attempts, he finally made a fortune importing ice by cargo ship from colder locations, and soon cocktail popularity and consumption grew dramatically.
In 1920, the Prohibition movement hammered down on bartenders and the burgeoning cocktail culture, followed by World Wars, but positives did come out of this era for those seeking cocktail comfort. Unemployed bartenders became soldiers and, as they were stationed around the world, they learned about fascinating new cultures and brought these flavours home with them.
Welcome to Trader Vic’s
Now, is it even possible to imagine a cocktail world where Tiki culture or Trader Vic’s doesn’t exist? (That is so obviously rhetorical!) The attention to Tiki gave way to awareness and allowed for the growth of other cocktail cultures. By the 1950s, cocktail culture was swinging with Manhattans and Martinis. Unfortunately, the arrival of the free love decade of the 1960s and the drug-centred pleasures of the 1970s took their toll on the art of cocktails.
Around the 1990s, New York‘s famous Rainbow Room began reviving the classic cocktail culture with a group of ambitious bartenders shaking to share their craft. Together they brought value and standards back to a craft that had been processed, packaged, and available at the local grocer in big plastic bottles of mixes.
2022 with Honest Cocktails
In 2022, an unexpected phenomenon of the pandemic is the nostalgia of enjoying the finer things in life and all the vices we gave up, of which an eye-catching, thirst-quenching, delicious cocktail experience fits into.
Honest Cocktails curated kits allow you to create new memories and experiences while taking back a piece of what we were deprived of for the past couple of years.
Visit the Honest Cocktails Order Page and soon you will be setting the mood with your favourite playlist, hand-crafted charcuterie board, beautiful company, and shaking up a delicious cocktail courtesy of HC.