19 04 2013
Not everything stirred in the glass you were served to can be called a cocktail. One shouldn’t as well confuse the mixed drinks with that weird mixture which gives you headache in the morning. Since ancient times mixed drinks were used to quench one's thirst. In ancient China they enjoyed drinks made of natural berry juice adding there snow or ice. Cocktails were invented much later. There’s no decisive answer to the questions when and where exactly they appeared, though to be more specific there are several of them.
The first version is connected with the history of cock-fighting. Probably, from an English word cock-ale – a mixture of spirits and bitters – the very word cocktail originates. Such beverage was used to raise the cocks’ combative instincts before the fighting. Nowadays you are able to yourself raise your own
As always, the Frenchmen argue with the Englishmen on the issue. Moreover, they’ve also got several answer variants. Firstly, together with many other things considered of pure American origin the word as well as the drink itself, cocktail was brought to North America by the French officers. The citizens of Bordeaux used a French word coquetel for denoting a mixed vines-based drink. Secondly, the same old Frenchmen state the name cocktail comes from the word coquetiers this time presented to the Americans not by an officer but by a druggist, still a Frenchmen named Peychaud. In 1875 he set up a spot in New Orleans where one could taste mixed drinks from brandy, bitters, and sugar. The drinks were served in the unusually shaped glassed Peychaud called coquetiers. The practical Americans with their strive for shortening all the words ordered bartender a cock-tey.
The Spanish also get into the argument. They insist that the word cocktail originated from the Spanish expression cola di gallo meaning a cock’s tail. So was called the cock-tail-looking-like root of one of the plants the bartender from a small city Campeche situated on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico was using to stir the drinks he prepared. American sailors who failed to miss a tavern, loved to also visit this Campeche one. When asked what was that in his hands, the polite bartender answered in English, “A cocktail”.
There’s one more story which connects the origin of the word cocktail with a tail of a cock, and its owner is James Fenimore Cooper. According to him, the first cocktail was prepared in the ’70s of the 18th century by the retainer (a businesswoman) of the Commander-in-chief Washington’s army Elizabeth Flannigan by the name. Once she served to the officers a drink made of rum, malt, and fruit juices decorating the glasses with the feathers from the tails of battle cocks. One of the officers, a Frenchmen by origin exclaimed seeing such a decoration, “Vive le cog’s tail!” (‘Long live the cock’s tail!’). Everyone liked this half-English and half-American phrase, and started calling the drink cocktail – a tail of a cock.
Finally, nobody can oppose the statement made by the Americans that New-York publishing office The Balance was the first to mention the word cocktail in print. A definition of cocktail appeared in the May 13, 1806, edition of The Balance, “Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters”.