The real story behind your favorite cocktail

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The real story behind your cocktail

What do you know about your favorite cocktail? Some cocktails have quite a long history although it is often not easy to be sure if all the stories are true. Therefore we selected some stories behind your favorite cocktails. Urban legends or true stories?

We don’t know to be honest. But at least you know what to tell next time you order your favorite cocktail.

Screwdriver

Vodka and orange juice. Can it be easier than that? One of the stories says that the screwdriver was born when workers started mixing vodka and orange juice with their... screwdriver. Yes!

Other stories tell us that the screwdriver was a codeword to mislead federal agents during the prohibition. Also linked with the prohibition are the stories of unregulated production of alcohol. This lead to loads of low quality booze. Bartenders then started to mix fruit juices with the alcohol to mask the pour quality booze. This could have given birth to quite some mixed drinks.

Another story tells us that the screwdriver was born when Smirnoff was building up their brand notoriety in the USA.

Harvey Wallbanger

The Harvey Wallbanger is in fact a combination of orange juice, vodka and galliano. It looks like it is invented in the 1950’s by Donato Antone. He has been a world champion mixology… So far for the facts and figures.

Another funny urban legend states that the Harvey Wallbanger gets its name from a surfer guy called Harvey. He came daily to the bar the have some screwdrivers to which he added some galliano. From time to time he then stumbled around smashing into the wall. People therefore started calling his favorite drink the Harvey Wallbanger. This story is hard to check but I prefer this one to the official one.

Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary is in my opinion the queen of the cocktails. Some people link the name of the cocktail to Queen Mary I who tried brutally and with a lot of bloodshed to bring back Catholicism to England… A terrible story!

Although hard to trace the truth, a certain Fernand Petiot claims he invented the drink in 1921 when working at the New York Bar in Paris. In that time the Russian revolution brought vodka to Paris. Together with some tomato juice and some spices, the drink got some success and got known in America under the name Red Snapper. Why it then changes to Bloody Mary is unclear to me but maybe it really had something to do with the referral to the bloody Queen Mary I. Who knows… anyway for those who don’t known yet, the Bloody Mary contains: vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. I also tried versions mixed with a raw egg and I must admit I like them!! 

Gin and Tonic

The origin of this cocktail goes back to the British soldiers who were fighting in the Indies.

There they were confronted with another problem, called malaria. Tonic water was used against malaria because it contains quinine.

The soldiers then added their gin to the tonic because the tonic alone was quite awful. After the war, the cocktail remained and nowadays we are witnessing a revival thanks to the gin hype.

Manhattan

Sometimes the Manhattan is told to be invented by Winston Churchill’s mother. Jennie Churchill who was living in New-York at that time organized a party at the Manhattan Club celebrate Samuel J. Tilden's.

This party would then have resulted in the Manhattan cocktail but this story is not true at all. It’s just a nice story for at the bar

This combination of whiskey, vermouth, bitters dates probably back to the New York bar scene of the 1860s but not much more is really known about its origin.  Sometimes it is referred to as the Martini with whiskey…

Irish Coffee

Some time ago in Ireland a flight was delayed. A bartender then had the original idea to add Irish whiskey in the coffee which would warm them up.

The passengers loved it and spread to word. The Irish coffee was born… no mention of added sugar or cream at that time. These came later and added a special touch to the drink.

 Mojito

The Mojito is a combination of rum, mint leaves, sugar and soda water. I heard that the original recipe was without soda water and I must admit I like it better without the soda. Just add a little sugar water instead of the soda.

The history of the cocktail is quite blurry but it is a fact that it finds its origin in Cuba.

The Mojito also seems to have been popular within the sailor community because it was a good preventative against scurvy. Another story says that Cuban farmers did not like their rum at that time which was quite bitter Therefore they added lime, mint and sugarcane juice.

So true or not? We don’t know and we don’t care. But at least some new stories to could help you to impress the waitress next time you order your beloved cocktail. And if she’s not impressed… well then you still have our cocktail to...

Enjoy!

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Steven Willems
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