Classic American Cocktails

The Classics

I thought it would be appropriate to highlight the alcoholic beverage so distinctly American — the cocktail.

There is some terrific history behind the cocktail. It is, first and foremost, a word coined in America. Although there are many theories as to its etymology, including rooster references and hangover cures, the most commonly accepted definition ironically mirrors the political nature of this national holiday.

The first documented definition came in 1806 and was printed in the May 13th edition of Balance and Columbian Repository, a federalist newspaper in Hudson, N.Y. The editor printed an answer to the question, “What is a cocktail?” He answered, “A cock-tail, then, is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind — sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a Democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else.”

From this vague, albeit humorous anecdotal definition, the concept, art and practice of cocktails remains a nationalistic treasure. The following list includes some of the perennial classics, possible origins and their corresponding original recipes. If you are looking for some inspiration this weekend, try one of these libertarian libations. [Read more…]