“I like to have a Martini,
Two at most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.”
– Dorothy Parker
Cocktails have made appearances everywhere, ranging from James Bond movies to classic novels. Even if you aren’t a raging alcoholic or an expert on spirits, or even if you’re underage and have just seen the names of some of these drinks on the oh-so-forbidden drinks menu, haven’t you ever wondered how exactly the names of certain drinks originated?
Here are the top 10 famous cocktails and the strange legends behind their name’s origin:
1o. Cuba Libre
Often referred to as “Rum and coke” in the united states, the cuba libre is originally a combination of cola, lime and white rum. The drink has it’s reaches from south America, where it originated, to Australia and is known colloquially by different names. It actually originates from Havana, dating back to the previous century, around 1900. After the Spanish-American War, the war cry of “free cuba” or “cuba-libre” became extensively popular and also led to Cuban independence. Thus, this rum and coke mixture came to be known as the “cuba-libre”.
9. The Irish Coffee
The Irishmen, known for their drinking-abilities, have their generic name in a cocktail, known as the Irish coffee. Irish coffee is more than just coffee that the Irish drink. The Irish coffee was initially invented at a cold winter morning at an airport in Ireland, where a bartender mixed whisky with coffee for providing some warmth to the poor, cold-stranded American passengers. Much to his delight, the passengers loved it and thus the irish coffee was born. Then, the Irish coffee was introduced to various ingredients such as whipped cream, which have brought it to the form we know today.
8. Gin and tonic
The main element of this cocktail is actually and tonic water, and actually has a much more different use than you think. Tonic water is a carbonated soft drink which has quinine, which acts as an impeccable cure for malaria. This cocktail originated at a time when British soldiers were fighting in the Indies. They were fighting not just against the opposition, but also against the malarial epidemic. They were given regular doses of quinine in the form of tonic water, which tasted pretty bad. In order to make it taste better, the British soldiers mixed it with gin, which was an instant hit. Even today, the tonic water we mix has quinine, but in a very minute quantity
7. The Pina Colada
Virgin or non-virgin, this one’s an all-time favorite. The pina colada essentially comprises of rum, pineapple juice and cream of coconut and is usually sweet and garnished with a pineapple wedge or a cherry. term “pina colada” literally means “strained pineapple”. It has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978. The official beverage uptil then was a mixture of coconut cream and rum, served inside a freshly scooped coconut, popularly known as the coco-loco. In the early 1950’s, however, the coconut-cutters union decided to strike. It was this time when Ricardo Gracia, decided to relocate coco-loco’s content into a pineapple. The sweet tinge of the pineapple mixed well with the rum and the coconut, and hence the pina colada was born.
6. The Mojito
The Mojito has been enjoyed from as early as the 16th century. It was popular among sailors, who used it to fight off scurvy. It was first invented as a method of making bad rum tolerable, and is now a widely enjoyed summer cocktail. It comprises majorly of rum, sugar, lime juice, mint and a little bit of soda water. The name of this cocktail probably originates from the name of the Cuban sauce “mojo”, which is made from sour ingredients like citrus juice. Thus, it is said to have a “little mojo”, or in Spanish, “mojito”. So, technically, mojito gets you your “mojo” or your “joie de vivre” back!
5. The Tom Collins
Essentially comprising of gin, carbonated water or soda, sugar syrup and lemon juice, this cocktail actually originated back in the 19th century from what was supposed to be an innocuous prank. In the year 1874, it was said to a man that a certain non-existent Mr. Tom Collins had been talking behind his back. This got the man curious, who in turn tried to search every nook and cranny for this Tom Collins. This prank spread about to thousands of new Yorkers, even though he was a non-existent person. The bartenders cashed in on this with their entrepreneurial mindset, by selling a cocktail in tom collin’s name. So whenever someone asked, “Have you seen tom Collins? He’s been talking behind my back”, it was automatically assumed that the Tom Collins Cocktail was being referred to.
4. The Screwdriver
One of the easiest to make and the most basic cocktail, this one is simple and sweet. It is simply a mix of vodka and orange juice, garnished with an orange slice and is great for a little vitamin-c boost. It’s history, however, is equally complicated. One legend has it that the screwdriver was invented by john martin, the owner of Smirnoff vodka. He apparently wanted to make Smirnoff vodka a household name in the united states, and hence history has it that he once filled an entire tanker with Screwdrivers and set out to promote it. Another story has it that the miners or blue-collar workers used their screwdrivers to mix this cocktail and thus it was born. It has various versions varying according to the ingredients put, such as with mountain dew it’s called a “dew Driver” (pun intended) or even with cognac it’s known as the “French screw”. Oh, screw you, get me a screwdriver, will ya?
3. The Cosmopolitan
Appearing in English Literature since 1993, the cosmopolitan is also colloquially known as the “cosmo”. It is served in a martini glass, hence often mistaken to be a martini. It’s popularity surged with the release of “sex and the City”. Essentially not a very sweet cocktail, it’s still gained an iconic image and reputation as a girly drink. It’s modern version includes vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice with a dash of lime. However, originally it’s recipe contained more of pure vodka. As legend has it, it’s invention is credited to the gay community of Massachusetts of the 1970’s. According to another claim, a man named Neil Murray gave birth to the cosmo by mixing cranberry juice with the kamikaze cocktail, to which a taster remarked “How cosmopolitan”. It’s true origins are still likely to remain a forbidden treasure.
2. Harvey Wallbanger
Contrary to your thinking, this one’s not named after a fictitious person. But Harvey sure was a whacko. The anecdote behind this funny name is that a person named Harvey used to visit the bars everyday for a quick drink. He preferred his screwdriver mixed with Galliano, a yellow liquor. Often losing his mind after two-three drinks, he would smash his head into things in and around the bar. His fellow bar-not-so-matey-mates would ridicule his drunkenness and thereby named the cocktail in his honor. And you never thought crazy inventors existed.
1. The Bloody Mary
The last, but not the least is our clear winner in the category, i.e the bloody Mary. Often known as The best cure for a hangover, this cocktail is definitely an all-time favorite. The tinge of tomato juice, the bittersweet taste of vodka, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce or even lemon juice gives it an accolade of the world’s most complex cocktail. However, the actual origins of this cocktail are not very clear. The most whimsical and absurd theory suggests that this cocktail was named after the dominating Queen Mary 1 of England, ruling in the 1950’s. In her regime, many catholic martyrs were torturously killed and the sheer callousness of this act caused her to be referred to as bloody mary. According to a newspaper known as the “weekly world news”, the tomato juice in bloody mary refers to the bloodshed taking place and the vodka is symbolic of the brutality of this act. Another origin of the name might have been from the Hollywood actress, mary Pickford. Others associate the Bloody Mary with a waitress named Mary, who worked in a busy bar in the hub of the city of Chicago. Yet another source of this name is that some people could not pronounce the name “Vladimir” correctly, and hence transformed it into an easily comprehendable version of bloody mary. Well, better let bygones be bygones for this one.
As a conclusion, most of the cocktail drinks we have observed have pretty shady pasts and not-so-obvious stories to their credit. Next time you’re actually in a bar, you can gladly oblige the bartender with your newly gained knowledge about some of the names he’s oh-so-familiar with.