Let’s look at the definition of what a cocktail is... According to an article in the 1806 Balance and Columbian Repository a cocktail should be: ‘cock tail, then in a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling’.
Does this mean that the cocktail is only 210 years old? Most definitely not. This was the first time someone actually coined the word cocktail and defined the word. The cocktail has been around for centuries. Even the ancient Egyptians were mixing wines and herbs to create something they would think was more palatable than the ingredients apart.
In India, they were already experimenting with alcohol and herbs in what they called ‘panch’ or ‘punch’ in the early 17th century. Usually this consisted of sugar, citrus, herbs, alcohol and water. In sanskrit the word ‘panch’ means five; in this case five ingredients.
In this day and age there are so many stories, myths and lore about the cocktail - where it originated, how it became so popular. Pick a story that you like. One of our favourite stories to tell is of Betsy Flanagan, an innkeeper in the young USA, who was famous for her rooster dish. She would pluck the feathers of the cock and cook it. Then when she would serve the food she would accompany the dish with a mixed drink that was garnished with the tail feathers of the cock. The story goes that a group of French soldiers were enjoying that meal and when they proposed a toast they shouted; 'Vive le cock-tail!'