The first cocktail was made by pirates?!
Well, sort of. In 1586, English privateer, Sir Francis Drake, lead his men to Havana where things took a bad turn.
The good news? They managed to steal a pile of gold.
The bad news? Many men suffered from malnutrition and scurvy, leaving the entire crew stranded in Havana.
Knowing citrus aided in the prevention, Sir Francis Drake sent a small party of men to shore to find some natives who could direct them to medicinals to administer to the sick men. They arrived at Matecumbe, Florida which is roughly in the centre of today’s Florida Keys.
The concoction they brought back to ship was made up of chuchuhuasi bark soaked in distilled sugar cane juice (rum), then mixed with lime and mint. Voila, El Draque.
The good news? They became well again.
The bad news? They continued to plunder and pillage.
To England, he is a hero, to the Spanish, he is a pirate.
Moral of the story?
We can be grateful to those who paved the way for the vast array of cool drinks we have access to today. By the way, which drink does Drake’s 1586 brew most resemble?
And why the name cocktail?
Apparently, the crew drank the mix from a long spoon with a cocktail handle. An image of this type of spoon brings up a bartenders mixing spoon which only holds about a teaspoon. I would doubt a teaspoon of El Draque would amount to much healing. My guess, they used something that resembled a ladle. The real question is why is the handle of this spoon called a cocktail?
Whether this story is the true origins of the cocktail drink, no one can really know for sure. As with many drinks, there are conflicting stories of who made the first one. This is no exception. Let me continue…
In 1731, James Ashley ran a Punch House in London, England and claims to have made the first cocktail, or rather, punch.
A recently opened Punch House in Chicago features pre-made punch served by the glass, by the carafe or, if you’re a larger group, by the punch bowl. Hmm, gives me an idea for Rum Punch Day.
Sadly, there are no Punch Houses in Canada. Pity.
Another story features Antoine Peychaud, of New Orleans, as the originator of the cocktail. Peychaud served mixed drinks in a coquetel, French for an egg cup. It was difficult for the English to pronounce and instead referred to it as cocktail.
Peychaud Bitters is produced in the States but not in Canada. Perhaps they are promoting their product with this story which may or may not be true. If anyone has any proof, please share.
In the end, google translates coequetel to cocktail. No matter where it came from or who started it, the result is a tasty and refreshing drink, just in time for summer.
A number of hands went into the making of the cocktail as we know it today so cheers to you while you enjoy your cocktail on National Cocktail Day.
What will be your cocktail of choice this season? Need some ideas for something new? See The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book or have some fun with the 1930 version of The Savoy Cocktail Book located on the sidebar.
If you’re looking for a new taste, visit your LCBO and pick up the new Bacardi Raspberry and mix it with any fizzy drink. Let your imagination run with it.
Also new on the scene is Luxardo’s Bitter Bianco which is made up of cardamom, rhubarb, quinine, bitter orange, and three secret herbs to give it it’s aromatic scented and slightly bitter, citrus-y flavour. Luxardo developed this liqueur to rival red bitters. Similar flavour but clear in colour. It is most popular mixed with vermouth but there are plenty of recipes available.
Happy Mixing! Cheers!
Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 13, 2017