Where Does the Name Cocktail Come From?

A cocktail is a mixture of two or more (alcoholic) drinks. Different flavors are brought together in a special way, for example by shaking them in a shaker or mixing them in a blender. A cocktail is a drink that both looks and tastes spectacular. Somebody once thought for the very first time, of mixing two different drinks, which one  being at least an alcoholic drink. Unfortunately, nobody exactly knows who was the very first or when this exactly occurred. There are lots of speculations though!

The first cocktails were probably invented by liqueurs and distillers in the second half of the 19th century. These complicated drinks were a welcoming development appreciated by the wealthy bourgeoisie. the economy was booming and people liked to play the “dress to impress” game in the classy and posh establishments. In the 1920s, when America had the endure the Prohibition (alcohol ban), cocktail became very popular, even among the middle and lower classes.

Theories How the Word “Cocktail Got Invented

How the mixed drinks got the name cocktail is not easy to find out. It is said that in the 18th century, the word cock-tailed was named after the non-pure mixed race horses, since the drink could be perceived as a non-pure mixed drink. There exist other theories though. One theory states that the name cocktail is derived from the French Coquetel. This was a drink that French officers enjoyed drinking during the American War of Independence from 1775 to 1783.

cocktailed history dublin nightlife

Here is another theory:

The word cocktail comes from the French “coq’s tail”. This refers to the colorful feathers of the cock (coq). The story goes that during the American Civil War (around 1779) the bar of the Irish Betsy Flanagan was full of American and French soldiers who fought together against the English. One day Betsy made an alcoholic drink and decorated it with rooster feathers. A French officer was so impressed, that he lifted the glass and screamed: Vive le coq tail! However another version of this story exists! This theory goes that the Irish pub owner Betsy Flanagan liked to wear dresses made from the colored feathers of fighting cocks. One day when she poured a delicious drink for a French customer, he was so impressed by the drink (or the pub owner), that he lifted the glass and shouted: “Vive le cocktail!”.

cocktail history dublin

More Theories to Consider

The word cocktail could also be derived from “coctel”, a Maya word which means fermented fruit juices. This was discovered in Yucatan by 16th-century Spaniards. They brought and introduced the concept in Europe and the name was turned into “cocktail” as a result. They used this name to indicate a mix of fermented fruit juices and distillates. The word Coctel is still used today in Latin-Spanish countries.

Another theory says that the word cocktail is derived from the French word Coquetier. A coquetier is a French egg cup that was used to serve liquor at the beginning of the 19th century in New Orleans.

Which theory is true? No one can really confirm. What matters is that it was actually invented! 😉