A Brief Origin of Cocktails


Clearly, no one can say for certain of the origin of cocktails. Where the word “cocktail” came from or who mixed the first one.

However, back in 1806, there were certain sections of American society that were condemning “a vulgar but stimulating bittered-sling made of spirits, sugar and water”. These were references to a range of commercially produced mixes.

Alchomix, a brief origin of cocktails
People celebrate the repeal of Prohibition with a homebrewed cocktail in 1933.

Presumably these mixes were aimed at those less upright members of the community, whom were not averse to the occasional display of vulgarity in their own homes. But this is only a presumption pulled from a cocktail book and may have nothing to do with the actual origins of cocktails.


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Origin of cocktails contenders

Folklore’s around the world claim fame to the creation of the first cocktails, here’s our favourite contenders to the origin of cocktails…


The professor

The first book which featured recipes for making cocktails was published in 1862. This book was entitled The Bon-Vivant’s Companion – How to Mix Drinks. Written by a famous bartender of the day, called Jerry “The Professor” Thomas. His book became a bestseller.


Influence of jazz

The coming Jazz Age that hit America introduced the “stirred and shaken” phenomena to the wider world. With many stories that speculate on how they came to be known as “cocktails” dating from this time.

Most of these stories invoke cockfighting, pretty young girls, and gallant, heroic men. However, another contender is a French-born New Orleans chemist – Antoine Amedee Peychaud. He was the creator of his own range of bitters.


Monsieur Peychaud

Monsieur Peychaud offered tipples in eggcups to visitors who came to his Pharmacie Peychaud drugstore. His drinks became known as coquetiers (French for egg cups).

Whomever created the first cocktail, legend has it that it as only a matter of time before the word became Americanized as “cocktails.”


Want to learn about modern cocktails?

Looking for more modern cocktail recipes to enjoy with friends? Then don’t miss the rest of the ever expanding Alchomix cocktail recipes database…


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