Cocktails and Cocks' tails
Just in case you are still looking for some more useful and interesting cocktail facts to slip into a conversation or that you just want to know for your own pleasure I’ve decided to put together a few more hubs on this subject.
Perhaps the first cocktail was mixed by accident or perhaps it was created just out of idle curiosity, the plain and simple truth is that we have no idea why the first cocktail was mixed, who mixed it or when in history this great event took place. We also don’t know for certain how cocktails came to be called cocktails but what what we do have are a large number of theories which have become embedded in cocktail folklore which vie with each other to take credit for this momentous event. So far no-one has been able to unearth any substantiating evidence to support any of the theories so the origin of the use of the word cocktail remains unknown. To me this mystery adds to romance and mysticism which cocktails have built up over the years so I hope that we never discover the truth.
My favourite stories involve Betsy and her Betsy’s Bracers during the Revolutionary War. One of these stories involves the American and French soldiers who drank in her tavern, the American soldiers stole some male pheasants from the British and in the raucous celebrations which followed Betsy’s Bracers were described as being as delicious to taste as a cock’s tail is beautiful to look at to which a French officer replied “Vive le cocktail”. Another variation has Betsy decorating glasses with tail feathers from a rooster which she stole from the British to cook for the American and French soldiers. When requests were made for her to provide more cocks' tails a French officer exclaimed “Vive le cocktail”. Yet another version attributes American officers toasting Washington with Betsy’s Bracers as “the cock’s tail” due to the feathers he wore in his hat.
From a different tavern another theory emanates, the tavern keeper’s daughter Peggy had created an alcoholic beverage to her own secret recipe. She was in love with a sailor who returned from one of his voyages with a promotion and “Lightening” a prize winning fighting cockerel. The sailor successfully asked for Peggy’s hand in marriage and on their wedding night, “Lightening” crowed and shook lose a tail feather. Peggy placed the feather in one of her drinks and she declared to her new husband that “Lightening” had named her drink and she told him to drink the cocktail to his success in obtaining her hand in marriage and to their future happiness. They considered the cockerel’s feather to be a sign of good fortune and used the emblem on their tavern sign for many years to come.