THE HISTORY OF
FROM THE GOLDEN AGE TO THE PROHIBITION ERA
LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE COCKTAIL
Who doesn’t love a well-made cocktail? Every great party host should know a few next-level cocktail recipes to wow their guests, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your cupboards already. But the real introduction to cocktails goes back centuries, all the way to the early 1800s when alcohol was seen more as a medicine than something for pleasure. Grab your favourite drink and settle down for cocktail storytime.
Starting with the Origin Story…
Bars and pubs have been around for centuries in various forms, but the 1700s saw countless taverns and inns open across America as people craved a place to kick back and enjoy a drink. According to an old advert for Dr Copp’s White Mountain Bitters, back then doctors prescribed botanical-infused spirits for anything from indigestion to jaundice; but in Britain, bitters were often added to a drink called Canary wine, which became immensely popular across America by the start of the 19th century.
This led to the historic day in 1806 when a New York bartender created a drink made of a spirit, sugar, water and bitters for the editor of a local newspaper, who then praised it as a ‘stimulating liquor’ in his column. This is known to be the first-ever mention of a cocktail in print, kicking off the incredible world of mixology we have today.
Cocktails through the
But then, Prohibition hit America in the 1920s, banning alcohol for 13 years. This meant cocktail-lovers couldn’t head to a bar for a highball after work. Instead, they had to hunt out an underground drinking den, known as a speakeasy. But as the liquor sold there wasn’t made in a professional distillery, the drinks were a lot harsher and harder to drink. Prohibition meant a shift towards hiding the taste of alcohol, away from the previous goal of enhancing the flavour of the liquor.
A Style Icon
After 13 long – and dry – years had passed, the curtain lifted and Prohibition was finally abolished. Public interest in cocktails soared thanks to legendary writers like Ernest Hemmingway, who often wrote about his love for whisky and soda as well as the Daiquiri and Negroni. When the 1960s and 70s came around, the trend went through the roof. When a ‘shaken, not stirred’ Martini is the most quoted line from arguably the most famous film series in the world (James Bond, of course), you know cocktails are a cultural phenomenon.
The good news is now you have 200 years worth of recipes and cocktail evolution to play with! Go back to the glory days of the Golden Era and keep things simple but elegant. Or you could jump back a century and try some iconic Prohibition-eEra style whisky cocktails. Feeling wildly creative? Go all out with homemade syrups, new flavour combinations or Insta-worthy garnishes to impress your guests. Our recipes have something for everyone, from complete newcomers to the most experienced cocktail maestros.