History & Background of Cocktails
The origin of the word cocktail? It was customary to dock the tails of horses that were not thoroughbred. They were called cocktailed horses, later simply cocktails. By extension, the word cocktail was applied to a vulgar, ill-bred person raised above his station, assuming the position of a gentleman but deficient in gentlemanly breeding. Cocktail may also be a reference to ‘gingering’, a practice for perking up an old horse by means of a ginger suppository so that the animal would cock its tail up and be frisky. Some of our recipes do have ginger but fortunately it’s delivered in liquid form !
Mixed alcoholic drinks have been around for around 5,000 years with traces of alcohol being detected on Mesopotamian pottery. Bitters and lime have been added to alcoholic drinks for medicinal purposes for at least 200 years. Cocktails were partly inspired by British punches—big bowls of spirits mixed with fruit juice, spices, and other flavours, consumed in punch houses in the 18th century. Punch was also popular in the British Navy and basically consisted of five ingredients (punch means five in Hindi) and the drink had liquor, citrus juice, sugar, water and spice (usually tea). The term cocktail was first described in 1806 as: “a stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water and bitters, called a bittered sling.” Cocktails were often considered as recuperative morning drinks and were provided at fox hunts and polo matches (they’d shed the ill-bred image by then !).