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The Surprising History of 11 Famous Cocktails

 We often take the everyday things in our life for granted, even if we actually value them a lot. But they, too, are the result of someone’s hard work and inventiveness. Consider your favorite cocktail, for example, be it a classic martini, a playful mint julep, a simple screwdriver, or something else altogether. Have you ever imagined that its invention, much like that of the television or playing cards, let’s say, has a long and often fascinating history behind it as well?
As a matter of fact, some of the classic alcoholic cocktails have an often surprising origins story, one that will certainly make savoring the drink a lot more fun! In this post, we’ll tell you about the fascinating origins of 11 such time-honored cocktails to recall and remember the next time you’ll be sipping on your favorite cocktail.

1. Daiquiri

the history of famous cocktails Daiquiri
Today, many fruity variations of this cocktail can be found, but the original daiquiri was made by mixing rum, sugar, and lime juice, and it was used as medicine. The name of the cocktail comes from the place when it was invented in 1898 - Daiquiri, Cuba.
The inventor of the drink, Jennings Cox, an American mining engineer, created the drink with the intention of protecting himself and fellow workers from yellow fever. Ten years later, a US Navy medical officer brought the daiquiri to the US to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC.

2. Bloody Mary

the history of famous cocktails Bloody Mary
In a previous article about signature cocktails from different corners of the world, we shared one of the plausible origins of this iconic cocktail. There we mentioned that the drink was invented by one Fernand Petiot. We omitted one of the most fascinating legends surrounding the invention of this famous drink, however.
This story goes that Petiot conceived of this drink at the request of Ernest Hemingway, who wanted to conceal the smell of alcohol from his wife Mary, and the tomato juice-based drink managed to do just that.

3. Paloma​

the history of famous cocktails Paloma
The invention of the Paloma, a grapefruit and tequila-based cocktail, is credited to Don Javier Delgado Corona, who was an owner of a bar in Tequila, Mexico. The man is also known for the invention of another drink called Batanga, a mix of Coca-Cola, tequila, and lime juice. The first person to introduce the Paloma to the United States was a bartender by the name of Evan Harrison.

4. Mint Julep

the history of famous cocktails Mint Julep
The mint julep is an iconic symbol of the Kentucky Derby today, but the origins of this drink go further back in time than the festival itself. The prototype for the refreshing drink is the julab, a drink made with rose petals and water that started in the distant 1700s in the Middle East.
From there, the drink spread to the Mediterranean, where the rose petals were more of a novelty and so they were gradually replaced with mint. The drink made its way to the US in 1850, when Senator Henry Clay brought it to the bar in the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC. A classic mint julep is a bourbon-based drink with plenty of mints, ice, and a touch of sugar syrup.

5. Margarita

the history of famous cocktails Margarita
The invention of the iconic margarita goes back to the late 1930s, and there are several possible origins of it. The most interesting, however, is likely this one. In 1938, the actress Marjorie King entered Rancho La Giora, a restaurant in the area of Tijuana.
The actress was allergic to all liquor varieties except for tequila, and so the bartender, Carlos “Danny” Herrera, made her the first margarita by mixing tequila with Cointreau, an orange-flavored liquor, lime, and a salted glass rim to complement the tequila.

6. Cosmopolitan

the history of famous cocktails Cosmopolitan
The cosmopolitan is a fairly recent drink compared to some of the other features on this list, so it’s strange that its origin is so widely disputed. One of the most widely-accepted inventors, however, is Tony Cecchini, who created the pink drink in 1988 while working at The Odeon in New York City.
The 25-year-old bartender decided to put a classy twist on an old cocktail recipe by mixing lemon vodka, Cointreau, lime, and cranberry juice together. The result was a flirty cocktail that’s still a favorite of the public.

7. Hurricane

the history of famous cocktails Hurricane
The hurricane is an exotic sweet cocktail that packs a real punch, and it’s made with rum, passion fruit syrup, and lemon juice. The drink is a New Orleans special that was invented by Pat O’Brien in the 1940s at Mr. O’Brien’s Club Tipperary. Constrained by alcohol shortages during World War II, O’Brien was forced to purchase large quantities of Caribbean rum, an unpopular drink at the time.
To sell more of the less than stellar alcoholic beverage, O’Brien created the exotic concoction and served it in a tall glass that resembled a hurricane lamp. The drink was a great success - a cocktail we all came to appreciate to this day.

8. Tom Collins

the history of famous cocktails Tom Collins
When it comes to Tom Collins, the drink, there is no doubt as to who invented the drink, but the name of the cocktail still has an interesting etymology. We know that initially the drink was called John Collins after its inventor, who was the head waiter at Limmer’s Old House in London.
Sometime during the 1860s, John Collins mixed Old Tom gin, lemon juice, soda, and powdered sugar to create the original recipe of the cocktail. With time, however, everyone started calling the drink Tom Collins. Some claimed that the name change happened because the recipe requires Old Tom gin, but a more interesting origin story is related to the Tom Collins Hoax.
The strange hoax was popular in 1874, and it boiled down to people going around bars inquiring about one Tom Collins, an imaginary character who was supposedly spreading bad rumors about everyone in London. Some believe that it was exactly this funny flashmob that gave the cocktail its modern-day name.

9. Gin and Tonic

the history of famous cocktails Gin and Tonic
Like the daiquiri, the iconic gin and tonic also started off as a type of medicine. The drink was coined in the 19th century when malaria infections were extremely widespread among the military troops of the British East India Company. To prevent the disease, the troops would drink a quinine-based tonic, an anti-malaria medication.
The problem with this tonic is that it was terribly bitter, and so soldiers started diluting it with some gin to make it more palatable. The rest is, as they say, history, and the famous drink is a crowd favorite to this day.

10. Screwdriver

the history of famous cocktails Screwdriver
The screwdriver is a simple yet effective drink, as it asks for just two ingredients - vodka and orange juice. But why is it called a screwdriver, then? Well, legend has it that the drink was invented by oil workers in the Persian Gulf during the 20th century, who would secretly add in some alcohol into their morning OJ while at work.
Since they didn’t have anything to mix the two ingredients together while on the job, they would often use a screwdriver instead of a spoon. Hence, the name of the drink.

11. Martini

the history of famous cocktails Martini
We’re all used to associating this world-famous cocktail with James Bond, but the origins of this classy drink actually started in the 19th century during the California Gold Rush. Reportedly, the cocktail started as an improvised substitute for Champagne. One day, a miner who had just struck a gold mine entered a bar in Martinez, California to celebrate his success with a bottle of Champagne.
Alas, the bartender didn’t have any on hand, so he quickly whipped up a signature concoction with ingredients he had in stock, namely some gin, maraschino liqueur, vermouth, bitters, and a lemon slice. The cocktail came to be quite popular and was soon named the Martinez Special.
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