How has the name cocktail itself come about? Many theories abound
The classic cocktails have obviously stood the test of time and are sought after around the world
A cocktail is a mixture of spirits, liqueurs, fruit juices and flavours, and a range of other ingredients intended to make the drink taste nice and look snazzy. Many classic cocktails have been invented by demand, and some by the mixologists ingenuity and innovativeness. The classic cocktails have obviously stood the test of time and are sought after around the world.
Similarly the names of the cocktails too. While some names are sort of self-explanatory, like a Whisky Sour, or a Piña colada, (which in Spanish, roughly translates to ‘strained pineapple’), or a G and T, some names like Sex on The Beach tend to make one think that it might have just been the wild and drunken imagination of the bartender or mixologist.
But how has the name cocktail itself come about? Many theories abound. One comprises the term cock-tailed, which originally described a horse with a tail clipped short, and ‘cock-tailed’ became a sort of derogatory term for racehorses without a thoroughbred pedigree. So, this may have been extended to alcoholic drinks that were similarly blended rather than contain pure spirits.
However, the most popularly believed story involves a New Orleans apothecary by the name of Peychaud (of bitters fame) who served a mixed brandy drink in a French eggcup, and this was named coquetier, the French term for an eggcup. The name was shortened to ‘cocktay,’ by his customers, which evolved into ‘cocktail’.
Some other cocktails have interesting origins too. For example, the French 75, which is a cocktail made with sparkling wine, gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup is supposed to have been invented around the time when the 75 mm Artillery Gun was the mainstay of the French Army during World War 1. People called the drink Soixante-Quinze, or 75 in French because it was believed to pack the same punch as the gun. This slowly evolved to French 75.
Of course, as with many names of various different things, the origins of names of many cocktails are also
obscure or disputed. One can only say, “Whats in a name?” and raise a glass to enjoy your favourite cocktail.
(The writer is resident mixologist & beverage manager, URU Brewpark)