History of Mixed Drinks, Cocktails, and the Classic Martini using Spirits and Gin

The History of Mixed Drinks

How long have martinis and cocktails been around? Cocktails have been around for a long, long time. They were first mentioned in print in the early 1800s.

Published in an common man's almanac, they are called a drink that “renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.“

This quote goes to show that "some things never change".

In those days a cocktail had to include bitters. Nowadays, a cocktail is any mixed drink, meaning spirits and juice or cream, sometimes with ice cubes or crushed ice, with or without the bitters.

Some scholars say that cocktails were created to help disguise the taste of salty barrels where the alcohol was stored. A little juice made the drinks more palatable.

Cocktail parties were first invented as a warmer-upper for a nice evening meal, to help guests break the ice, lose any initial shyness and get the gathering off to a good start. With time, cocktail parties grew to have a life of their own. Appetizers are served, tasty and sometimes intriguing to look at. Instead of being stashed in the hallway while the hostess puts the finishing touches on the meal, a cocktail party enables the whole group to casually sit or stand or lean on a piece of furniture, nibble, sip and elaborate. What could be nicer?

From the Pirates of the Caribbean to the days of Bathtub Gin, cocktails have come a long way, baby. Before and after being illegal sipping delights, high class ladies and mothers of Prime Ministers threw - and continue to throw - cocktail parties. Bond, James Bond is the father of the vodka martini. Reaganomics helped revive the cocktail habit, and modern day cocktails contain specialties growing in a modern garden. Progress never stands still. I was surprised to learn that modern cocktails also include edible cocktails, which are delicious and around 30 calories a pop, depending upon the ingredients.

So why not see what everyone is cheering about, and find an occasion to toast? Cheers, and bottoms up!

Be sure to see my hub First Class Cocktail Party for tips on throwing a foolproof stress free party. What's the point of having a party if the host or hostess is running around like a maniac? Cocktail parties are designed to engage in adult level conversation, a step out of the reality of earning, working, and producing. Cocktail party is synonymous with unwinding, reflecting, discovering, appreciating and simply enjoying.

Got to have a heavy duty blender

Edible Cocktails

edible cocktails look like candy!
edible cocktails look like candy! | Source

James Bond 007

James Bond prefers his martini "shaken, not stirred".  A combination of vodka, vermouth, with a lemon or olive garnish makes the classic drink
James Bond prefers his martini "shaken, not stirred". A combination of vodka, vermouth, with a lemon or olive garnish makes the classic drink | Source

Cocktails, Gingerales

Pina Coladas with a piece of coconut for garnish
Pina Coladas with a piece of coconut for garnish | Source
the Classic Manhattan - Canadian Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, bitters, and a cherry.  It's the official drink of the IBA
the Classic Manhattan - Canadian Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, bitters, and a cherry. It's the official drink of the IBA | Source
Usually served in a hurricane glass, the sling is a popular combination of Cherry Heering, gin, pineapple juice and Benedictine.  It was invented in Singapore at the Raffles Hotel Bar, about 100 years ago, where the drink is still served today.
Usually served in a hurricane glass, the sling is a popular combination of Cherry Heering, gin, pineapple juice and Benedictine. It was invented in Singapore at the Raffles Hotel Bar, about 100 years ago, where the drink is still served today. | Source

Cocktail Party Drinks and Pirates

Some of the most popular drinks being served today have amazing beginnings.

The Pina Colada

Legend has it that in the early 1800s, a Puerto Rican pirate concocted the drink to encourage his weary crew. Combining coconut, rum and pineapple juice, he was on to a winner. Nowadays most bartenders substitute the coconut creme for the coconut, adding an even more delightful taste. Two hundred years later, it remains a popular favorite for pirates and non-pirates alike!

The Manhattan

Another oldie, this drink was invented in the early 20th century by none other than Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, Jennie Jerome. Well, actually, her already famous bartender by the name of Iain Marshall invented it. She was throwing a party in New York city in the honor of Presidential Candidate Samuel Tilden, and wanted a new drink to delight her guests. Consisting of both whiskey and grenadine, some say that the recipe was intended to be 50/50 grenadine and Canadian whiskey. Most prefer to put less grenadine and double the whiskey. Don't forget the bitters and a cherry to make it complete. Make this classic drink for yourself and see which version that you prefer.

The Singapore Sling

An Asian bartender by the name of Ngiam Tong Boon created this drink at the turn of the 20th century in Singapore. The hotel is named Raffles and it's still standing, serving the world famous cocktail from a machine, but that is not important. The drink went through changes over time. Originally made with fresh pineapple juice which gives its foamy bubbles, most bartenders combine bottled pineapple juice with soda water. The machine blends the drink well and helps keep the line of customers moving along, since the drink has given the hotel a tourist attraction status. The good news is, the quality of the drink is on an upswing. Up until the 1970s, the drink was nothing more than colored gin with a hint of pineapple. With the focus on fresh fruits and vegetables in cocktails in recent years, must have Chery Heering and foamy pineapple juice have restored the drink almost to its former glory and status. Together with Benedictine, you have a delicious taste sensation.


South of the Border

Salting the rims and using Mayer lemons is recommended for a softer lemon taste
Salting the rims and using Mayer lemons is recommended for a softer lemon taste | Source

A good bartender needs to know a few drinks

The first cocktail party ever held was in 1917 by Mrs. Julius Welch in St. Louis, MO.

Since then, cocktails continued to gain in popularity! Cocktail parties took on a life of their own. Instead of jamming guests into the hallway before dinner, the cocktail was the main entry, and the act of entertaining became a lot easier.

When Prohibition began in 1920, most people took the alcohol production business underground with the famous Bathtub Gin. Gin was chosen because it does not need to be distilled. Since the alcohol didn't always turn out so well, cocktails saved the day. A little juice, bitters and so on, and the drink became more palatable!


Bond James Bond

James Bond 007 popularized the Vodka Martini. Who could ever forget that he liked his drink "stirred, not shaken?"

The first half of the 1960s was a cocktail sipping extraveganza. Imagine the folks from Mad Men. Jackie O fashions - fancy beehives and - cocktails.

The second half of the 1960s ushered in a different era - recreational drugs. During the so-called hippie movement, when people started to experiment with marijuana, LSD and speed, alcohol lost its popularity. Rock and roll stars also helped bring this trend into the mainstream, alcohol was for old fogies and drugs were cool and compact.

800 calories - wow!

The long island iced tea is a delicious but potent drink, containing gin, tequila, vodka, rum, Triple Sec and coca cola for color.
The long island iced tea is a delicious but potent drink, containing gin, tequila, vodka, rum, Triple Sec and Coca-Cola for color. | Source

The 1980s - Reagonomics and Gin Cocktails

The 1980s brought back the cocktail to its former popularity again. Drugs were now uncool - and alcohol was back in! There was disco, girly drinks and prosperity. All things tend to be in a cycle, and cocktails were back. Drinks containing gin, and other clear colored spirits, like vodka, tequila and whiskey - were king of the hill. Oldies but goodies like Tom Collins were back. Newbies like Long Island Iced Teas were here. With plenty of jobs, money to burn and happy hour right after work, no reason not to raise a glass and listen to the great 1980s music! What a great era!

Green and Edible Cocktails

From the 1990s to today, the newest trends in cocktails include Green Cocktails and Edible cocktails.

Green cocktails may or may not be alcohol free. There are now organic spirits, made without chemical processing and treated with fruit juices (like grapefruit) to give a distinct flavor. Additions may include cucumber, spinach, avocado, and just about anything growing in your organic garden or the produce department. The concoctions are creative, amazing - and delicious! Believe me, they will "grow" on you.

Edible cocktails are a better version of cheap - but inebriating - Jello shots that many college students tried. They can be gelled into tiny molds, like ice cube trays. They consist of fresh fruits like blackberries, gin, and gelatin to make a miniature mouth sized morsel which delights the tastebuds while "fuddling the head".


doesn't this look good - and very healthy too!

green city smash
green city smash | Source

What do you think of the edible cocktails?

Edible cocktails are

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You don't have to be a lush to like cocktails. They are sophisticated mixers and the combinations are endless!

Cheers!

- ECAL

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