The original meaning of the word "cocktail" was a mixed alcoholic drink with bitters. But how did the word originate?
While there are many theories, the most common one dates back to 1793, when Antoine Peychaud, the creator of Peychaud's Bitters, served his potion to friends in small egg cups called coquetier. It's thought that mispronunciation morphed "coquetier" into "cocktail." By the end of the 19th century, the word cocktail would become synonymous with a mixed drink containing any type of alcohol.
Naming these newfangled "cocktails" was no easy task. With so many existing specialty drinks, coming up with an innovative tag continues be a challenge for today's mixologists. Anyone can add “tini” to the end of a word, but coming up with a name that truly stands out, has character, or even, like "cocktail" itself, an interesting back story, is a task unto itself.
In a nod to the name-makers who helped set the precedent, here is a brief history of some attention-grabbing cocktail names:
Corpse Reviver (No. 1 & No. 2)
This gruesomely named libation comes in two versions. Both are known as hair-of-the-dog remedies, sure to revive you after a long night of drinking, although the Corpse Reviver No. 2 is usually favored for taste. Harry Craddock, author of The Savoy Cocktail Book noted that No. 1 is "to be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed," and about No. 2: “Four of these taken in quick succession will un-revive the corpse again.”
After throwing back several vodka screwdrivers mixed with Galliano, he stood up and walked straight into a wall.
Thus, the name was born. The Corpse Reviver No. 1 is made with two shots of cognac, one shot of apple brandy or Calvados, and one shot of sweet vermouth stirred well with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. For the Corpse Reviver No. 2, start with a dash of absinthe (or pastis) and add 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice, 3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc, 3/4 oz. gin, and 3/4 oz. Cointreau. Combine with ice, shake, strain and pour.
Death in the Afternoon
Death in the Afternoon is more than Ernest Hemingway's famous book about bullfighting. In honor of the novel, the writer also created an eponymous cocktail. The drink was introduced in a 1935 compilation of cocktail recipes called So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon.
Hemingway’s directions say: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
Used as a marketing gimmick to increase business, the Monkey Gland was touted as a way to increase masculine vigor. It originated during the 1920s and made its debut at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.
The inspiration for the name? A surgical technique that grafted testicle tissue from monkeys to humans. The recipe (for the drink) is as follows: Half gin and half orange juice, plus a dash of grenadine. Add ice, mix and serve.
The recipe is fairly simple: In a highball glass, mix 1 oz. vodka with orange juice. Add a ½ an oz. Galliano (a sweet herbal liqueur) and ice.
The semantics behind the name are equally as simple and, although more than one story exists regarding its history, this one is the most fun: A surfer named Harvey, who lived in Manhattan Beach, was upset about losing a big surfing competition, so he headed to a bar to drink his sorrows away. After throwing back several vodka screwdrivers mixed with Galliano, he stood up and walked straight into a wall. Thus, the name was born.
Despite what you may think, this cocktail is named after the fruit used to make the drink and not after a body part. "Fuzzy" refers to the soft skin of a peach, and "navel" refers to navel oranges. Here's how to make it: Pour 1 1/2 oz. peach schnapps into a highball glass and fill the rest with orange juice and ice.
The foremost adaptation of this drink combines 1 1/2 oz. dark rum, 3/4 oz. Jamaican rum, 3/4 oz. light rum, 3/4 oz. pineapple juice, 3/4 oz. papaya and 1 oz. lime juice. Oh, and don't forget the float of 151-proof Demerara rum on top.
Although its potency may be enough to frighten you, that is not how it got its name. The Zombie owes its ghastly name to an incident in the 1930s.
Its creator, Donn Beach, made the beverage for a restaurant customer who, after having several, left the establishment and promptly disappeared for several weeks. When he finally surfaced, he said that the cocktail had transformed him into a member of the living dead.
Fish House Punch
This punch was a staple at the Fish House Club in Philadelphia, where George Washington was a founding member. It is said to be Washington's favorite punch and his wife, Martha, even had her own special recipe. The directions: In a large bowl, dissolve 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar in a small amount of water. Add 1 quart lemon juice, 2 quarts dark Jamaican rum, 1 quart cognac, and 4 oz. peach brandy. Stir and then chill for several hours. (Serves several!)
Satan's Whiskers is a digestif usually served with meals It comes two ways — straight and curled. It seems we can attribute this to a bartender who one day ran out of Grand Marnier and used Curaçao as a substitute. Both recipes are made with 1/2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. sweet, 1/2 oz. dry vermouth, 1/2 oz. orange juice and a dash of orange bitters. For a straight whisker, add 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier. To curl, add 1/2 ounce Curacao.