The Origins of 14 Cocktail Names

A cocktail garnished with lime
A cocktail garnished with lime
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The word cocktail is a bit of an etymological puzzle: Originally only a nickname for an animal that rears up when irritated, by the late 1700s it had become another word for a horse with a “cocked” or shortened tail. But how or why it then made the leap to alcoholic mixed drinks in the early 1800s is a mystery.

One theory claims it’s to do with the drinks making you feel energized and sprightly, like an energetic horse, while another suggests it’s because cocktails were popular at the races. Alternatively, the two meanings could be entirely unrelated—one equally plausible explanation is that cocktail might in fact be an anglicized version of the French coquetier, meaning “egg-cup,” which was perhaps once used to serve the libations.

The origins of the names of individual cocktails are often just as tricky to pin down, with rival explanations and rivaling claims of invention often competing against each other. Here are the stories—and theories—behind 14 of your favorite tipples.

1. Bellini

A bellini cocktail
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The pale orange-red color of a classic Bellini cocktail reportedly reminded its inventor—Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Venice’s famous Harry’s Bar—of a similar color often used in paintings by the Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini.

2. Mint Julep

A mint julep
iStock.com/RickSause

Although nowadays it refers almost exclusively to a cocktail of bourbon whiskey (or, more controversially, brandy) flavored with sugar and mint, the word julep was originally borrowed into English from French as far back as the 1400s to refer to a sweet-tasting or sweetened drink. Before then, it has its earliest origins in the Arabic word for rose-water, julab.

3. Mojito

A mojito with plenty of ice
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Although debate rages over the exact origin of the mojito, according to the Oxford English Dictionary it probably takes its name from mojo, the Spanish name of a Cuban sauce or marinade made with citrus fruit—a mojito is literally a "little mojo."

4. Daiquiri

A frozen daiquiri
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Staying in Cuba, a classic daiquiri cocktail—basically a mojito without the mint—is named after the village of Daiquirí on the far southeast coast of the island. Legend has it that the drink was invented by local American mining engineers around the time of the Spanish-American War when they ran out of gin and had to use the local rum instead.

5. Margarita

Homemade classic margarita
iStock.com/Wiktory

Marjorie King, a former Broadway dancer, the singer Peggy (i.e. Margaret) Lee, and Margarita Henkel—the daughter of a former German ambassador to Mexico—are all touted as the possible namesake of the margarita cocktail. But in fact the cocktail might not be named in honor of anyone at all—margarita is the Spanish word for “daisy,” and so one theory claims the drink was simply a variation of an earlier Texan cocktail called the “tequila daisy.”

6. Manhattan

Manhattan cocktail garnished with a cherry and lemon
iStock.com/Stockphoto24

Although accounts of the event are debatable, legend has it that the Manhattan cocktail was specially invented for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolf (mother of Winston) Churchill at the trendy Manhattan Club in New York in the late 1800s. The name Manhattan was already in use long before then, however, as the name of a different drink from the modern Manhattan cocktail. And at the time this supposed party took place, Lady Randolph was very pregnant with Winston, and living in England. So the real origin is probably lost to time.

7. Rob Roy

A Rob Roy on the rocks
iStock.com/JMLederer

A Manhattan made with Scotch rather than Canadian whisky is a Rob Roy. It was originally invented at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1894 to celebrate the Broadway premiere of an operetta loosely based on the life of the Scottish folk hero Rob Roy.

8. Old Fashioned

An old fashioned cocktail with cherries
iStock.com/bhofack2

When it became popular in the late 1800s to introduce liqueurs into cocktail recipes, the older, more basic recipes that omitted them—and in particular this classic mix of whiskey and bitters—became known as “old fashioned” cocktails.

9. Tom Collins

A Tom Collins with lemon wedge
iStock/com/Stockphoto24

A John Collins is a mixture of London dry gin, lemon, sugar, and soda. Replace the London gin with Old Tom gin, and you have a Tom Collins. The Collins part is said to come from a 19th century headwaiter known as John Collins, who worked at Limmer's Hotel and Coffee House and is thought to be the inventor of the drink. The Tom part may also have been influenced by an 1874 hoax often perpetrated at bars.

10. Mai Tai

A Mai Tai cocktail by the pool
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Invented at a bar in California in the 1940s, maitai means “good” or “nice” in Tahitian …

11. Piña Colada

A piña colada against a purple background
iStock.com/ivanmateev

… while piña colada means “strained pineapple” in Spanish, a reference to the drink’s fruity base.

12. Sidecar

A sidecar drink
iStock.com/TravisLincoln

Although the origins of the sidecar cocktail are hazy, one story claims that it was invented in Paris just after World War I by an American Army captain who could often be seen being driven around the city in a motorcycle sidecar.

13. Singapore Sling

Cold, refreshing Singapore Sling cocktail
iStock.com/bhofack2

Sling is a general name for any sweetened and flavored drink made from a spirit base. The Singapore sling was invented in the early 1900s at the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore by an acclaimed barman named Ngiam Tong Boon.

14. Mimosa

A mimosa cocktail with garnish
iStock.com/Anzel

The mimosa takes its name from the mimosa plant, Acacia dealbata, which produces bright orange-yellow flowers the same color as mixed champagne and orange juice.

A version of this list first ran in 2015.

Love Red Wine But Hate the Stains It Leaves on Your Teeth? Wine Wipes Can Help

yula/iStock via Getty Images
yula/iStock via Getty Images

How your mouth looks after a glass of red wine depends on your genes and hygiene habits. People with strong enamel and not a lot of plaque can emerge from a wine bar with a relatively clean smile, but for those of us without those markers of exceptional dental health, red wine usually leaves dark, unsightly stains. If you fall into the latter group, there's a way to enjoy wine and preserve your smile without sticking to whites and rosés.

Using Wine Wipes is a convenient way to remove red wine stains from your teeth. The wipes come in individually wrapped packets like wet wipes. If you suspect your mouth is looking more purple than you'd like it to, tear open a packet, remove the wipe, and rub it over your pearly whites to make them pearly white again. The wipes comes in an orange blossom flavor, which won't spoil your palate in case you want to have another glass of wine or two.

Woman with wine wiping teeth.
Amazon

The Wine Wipes are billed as toothbrush alternative for when you're drinking outside your home, but wiping your teeth may be even better that brushing them if you want to remove wine stains. The bristles of a toothbrush can scratch enamel, creating entry points for dark pigments. While brushing your teeth can help reduce stains if you do it 30 minutes before you start drinking, or after you’ve had your last glass, Wine Wipes can be applied between glasses.

A package of 12 2-inch wipes is now available on Amazon for $5.74. If you want to stay extra prepared, the wipes also come in packs of 36, 48, and 60.

Wine Wipes packet and box.
Amazon

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Host an Epic Summer Party at This 40-Seat Pop-Up Bar—Without Leaving Your Backyard

The Yard Bar
The Yard Bar

Wishing you could go down in history as the host of the best backyard summer bash that your neighborhood has ever seen?

With the Yard Bar, you can. The portable bar, created by husband-and-wife team Andy and Kerri Marin, is 30 feet long, seats up to 40 people, and comes with virtually everything you need for an unforgettable party: wooden bar stools and high-top tables, a flat-screen TV and commercial sound system, recessed lighting, running water, a generator, and plenty of room for a fully stocked bar. And the retractable awning will prevent any actual rain from raining on your parade, wedding, birthday party, or whatever offbeat summer holiday you might be celebrating.

You’ll have to provide the alcohol yourself, but don’t worry if you don’t have much bar-stocking experience—the Marins can work with you to create specialty cocktail recipes for your event, and they’ll even help you figure out how much alcohol you’ll need depending on the size of your party.


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If your own yard isn’t quite ideal for such a legendary affair in the making, feel free to book the Yard Bar for somewhere less conventional. “If you can imagine it somewhere, it can probably go there,” Kerri Marin told Philadelphia Magazine, “It’s even been on top of a boat!”

The simple, rustic elegance of the Yard Bar achieves the perfect blend of indoor warmth and outdoor freshness, and it’s a great solution for people who love the idea of going to a bar, but aren’t so keen on the crowded, rowdy, noisy nature of hordes of strangers drinking in a contained space.

The Marins have seen such success with their Philadelphia-based bar that they’ve now expanded to upstate New York and several areas of Florida, including Orlando, Tampa, and Miami.

If you’d like a portable pub with more of an Irish vibe, be sure to check out The Shebeen or the inflatable PaddyWagon.

[h/t Philadelphia Magazine]

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