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Cocktail - The first written appearance of the word

Updated on April 20, 2010


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The opening words of any conversation make an impression so trying to start up a conversation with the attractive man or woman sitting next to you in the bar using a cheesy clichéd chat up line may not be that successful unless of course you are Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie!. So you never know reading this hub might arm you with enough information to strike up a conversation with the person you will end up spending the rest of your life with, but then again it might not.  It is far more likely however that the information you glean from this hub will prove itself to be extremely useful when trying to find something intelligent and interesting to talk about to your boss’s wife at the next cocktail party you have to attend.

The origins or etymology of the word cocktail remains unknown and there are many different and diverse explanations vying for the credit.

The word cocktail first appears in print on 28 April 1803 in a publication called “The Farmer’s Cabinet” from Amherst, New Hampshire. The word appears twice in the fictional journal entry of a man a little the worse for wear the morning after the night before, and he drinks a “glass of cocktail “twice during the course of the day and gives it credit for making him feel much better. So the cocktail makes its first literary appearance as a cure for the hangover and given the number of hangovers caused by cocktails I must admit I find this to be amusingly ironic.

The earliest published definition of a "cocktail" was printed on 13 May 1806 in the Balance and Columbian Repository, where it answered a reader’s question "What is a cocktail?" with this response.

“Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a Democrat because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else.”

To understand the context of the answer you need to know that the reader’s question was posed following the publication the week before of a losing democratic politician’s election profit and loss account in which he lists his losses as being

720 rum-grogs

17 brandy-grogs

32 gin-slings

411 glasses bitters

25 glasses cocktails

My election

And his gains as being


The newspaper conjectured that the price of rum might need to rise in Claverack due to the shortage created.


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    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 7 years ago

      Hi toknowinfo

      I did enjoy researching this topic and writing the hub but it isn't a high traffic subject!


    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 7 years ago

      Very interesting hub on a unique topic. Thanks for the info.

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 7 years ago

      Hi katie

      I really enjoyed the research I carried out for my cocktail hubs. Thanks for visiting this hub "Cocktail - the first written appearance of the word".


    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      How fun, I like this idea and learned a lot about cocktails when did the world first appear in print.180 WOW Oh the great ideas... Thanks for sharing cocktail facts and details.

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 7 years ago

      Hi James

      I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Cocktails are one of those drinks where you can usually find something suitable for every mood and evey occasion!


    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      I enjoyed your Hub. And I do enjoy the occasional cocktail as well. :)

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 8 years ago


      Thank you for your kind words and for popping by.


    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Nice, focused Hub. Enjoyed reading.

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 8 years ago

      Thank you for your kind compliments, they are much appreciated. I hope you enjoyed the experience of your first cocktail party.

    • Don Simkovich profile image

      Don Simkovich 8 years ago from Pasadena, CA

      Good Hub to show how any topic can be made interesting. It's a fun and unique niche. The use of "cocktail parties" has probably changed dramatically. My parents used to have them or go to them . . . I was at one the other weekend billed "cocktail" as an engagement party. Maybe that was the first time in my adult life!

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 8 years ago

      Thank you for taking time to read my hub. I'm pleased that you like it. Amber

    • Teresa Laurente profile image

      Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 8 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

      Informative, worth adding as conversation piece. I like it. Thank you for sharing this. More power.

    • bearclawmedia profile image

      bearclawmedia 8 years ago from Mining Planet Earth

      Clever, fun and to the point, good informative and helpful hub. I am partial to the odd cock tail myself. Thanks