Whether you’re an aspiring mixologist or are building your own home bar, the history of some of your favorite drinks might be of interest. Not only are you likely to learn something you didn’t know before, but you will also have some enlightening tidbits to share over your next cosmopolitan. From Italy to New York City, the drinks you know and love were invented by creative drink-crafters. Vodka enthusiasts and history buffs alike can rejoice over the exciting histories of these five cocktails.
1. Old Fashioned
What better cocktail to start with than what some say is the quintessential cocktail. Now known as a whiskey drink, the first known instance of the recipe in 1862 used gin. While the drink had a similar makeup, it was in Kentucky that that modern Old Fashioned truly came together. A local bartender, James E. Pepper, was said to have dreamt up the drink and delivered the recipe to the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. The first known publication of the recipe using whiskey was published in 1895 in “Modern American Drinks.”
The Negroni came a little bit later, in 1919. This Italian drink came reportedly originated from an establishment in Florence, Cafe Casoni. If the folklore is correct, a patron named Count Camillo Negroni wanted a version of an Americano with a little more kick. So, the bartender replaced the soda water with gin and added an orange twist. Then, the drink caught on, and other patrons began ordering it.
Like many cocktails, the history of the Cosmopolitan is a little bit fuzzy. A similar drink was made in the 1960s but was called a Harpoon and missed one of the contemporary essential ingredients, Cointreau. Then, according to different accounts, the beverage we know today may have come from two very different cities. Whether it was Miami Beach or Provincetown, MA, it seems like the 1970s was the era the Cosmo came to life. It wasn’t until 1987 that a bartender in Manhattan made the drink under the current name that it took off in popularity.
4. Bloody Mary
Another drink from the 1920s, this beverage was experimented with pre-prohibition but came to life when it was repealed. Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot was working at a bar in Paris when he originally designed the drink and then brought it to Manhattan, where he added famous touches like horseradish, Tabasco, and celery salt. Because of its hefty base and rich flavor, the Bloody Mary is more often consumed at brunch or lunch than as an evening drink.
5. Dark ‘n’ Stormy
This rum-based cocktail originated in Bermuda and has a long history that centers around the Gosling family. The Goslings have sold Black Seal rum since 1857, and today the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is not considered official unless made with their liquor. They have trademarked the drink, which became possible due to the ginger beer also being produced on the island at the time of the drink’s origin. Now, it’s a popular beverage for boaters and remains the most popular drink at popular restaurants in Bermuda.
Now, when you try a new drink at your local bar, you may be inclined to search online for its origins. Interestingly, many of the cocktails on this list came to fruition around the prohibition era, when liquor was often served underground in speakeasies. Although the history of these drinks is not clear-cut, it is fascinating to piece together potential accounts and marvel at the creativity bartenders used to enhance the flavor of their liquor of choice. With the rise in popularity of craft cocktails and modern speakeasies, inventions of new classics are likely just around the corner.