Behind The Bar: The Histories Of 6 Popular Cocktails

In 1862, Jerry Thomas, the Godfather of American Bartending, wrote the first book of cocktail recipes.

With the endless array of cocktails served up today, it’s hard to imagine that only around a century ago, our options at the bar were fairly limited. In truth, it took many years of brave experimenting and improvisation and changes in economies to create the classic cocktails we’ve all now familiar with.

Here’s where 6 of our favourites were shaken up for the first time.
Find out how well you know your poison.

1. Old Fashioned

This humble mix of Bourbon, sugar, bitters and orange peel has been loosening tongues for over a century and gets its name from the tumblers in which it is traditionally served, also called “old fashioned” glasses.

In the early years of the 19th century, the liquor was so terrible that people were desperately scrounging to make their booze taste better.
Mixing in sugar and bitters into their whiskey to make it more easy on the throat, they inadvertently began a new era of drinking.

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2. Mai Thai

In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, the taste became as important as getting drunk, and so people began adding extras to spirits to make them delicious.

Apparently, the practice began in Vietnam, where Americans tackled bad liquor with whatever they could get their hands on and add a variety of juices.

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3. Long Island Iced Tea

This fun drink has something in it for everyone – so needless to say – it packs quite a punch.

LIITs, as we know, aren’t really iced teas but were definitely created in Long Island. Rosebud Bob Butt, a bartender at the Oak Beach Inn in Hampton Bays, invented the drink in 1976.

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4. Daiquiri

While wartime rations made most spirits hard to come by, rum was still plentiful.

The credit of using it to create a Daiquiri, however, goes to an adventurous engineer called Jennings Cox. In 1905, he got lucky with his creative mixing.

The simple mixture of rum, lime, and sugar supposedly whipped up in Cuba eventually made its way back to the USA, and gained a sweet strawberry-flavour sometime later.

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5. The Manhattan

As with many classic things, the origins of the Manhattan are disputed.

If the most popular story, however, is to be believed, the drink came into existence at the Manhattan Club in New York in the early 1870s.

It was specially created by a certain Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet in honour of presidential candidate Samuel Tilden hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother.

The drink proved to be so popular during the dinner, that its fame spread outside the club and people soon began requesting to try “the Manhattan cocktail”.

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6. The Screwdriver

If you’ve always wondered about this drink’s weird connection to a construction tool, allow me to enlighten you.

A long time ago, an American oil worker in the Persian Gulf would slyly add a bit of vodka to his orange juice while on the job, mixing it in which the only handy tool at reach – a screwdriver, and his supervisors were none the wiser.

For a simple drink with just two ingredients — vodka and orange juice — this cocktail packs a quite a punch.

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Today, bar cabinets come comprehensively stocked to ensure bartenders are never short on ingredients they can get creative with to quench the public’s thirst for unique, original cocktails; or simply shake up an old favourite or two.

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Posted by

Amanda Francesca Mendonça

After spending pretty much all of my teen years waiting for a Hogwarts letter that never came, I gave up and settled for being a wizard with words instead. A hopeless romantic, when I’m not penning down short stories, I’m busy imagining my own happily ever after.

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