Cock-Tail, or How A Little Drink Was Once Named

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Although many theories remain as to how the word ‘cocktail’ came to be, SAVEUR Magazine contributor David Wondrich unscrupulously researched his own and was published in the chronicle on January 14, 2016. In the piece, the original cock-tail is traced to the Hudson River Valley of the mid to late 1700s, with a much simpler recipe than we understand today. Rather than being mixtures of different measures of spirit, these simply involved three elements – a base like brandy, wine, or beer, sugar, and bitters. Wondrich then elaborated that even George Washington broke ranks at 5pm on the eve when he met with British commanders to discuss annexation of New York to America. Inviting all to a new table, they enjoyed wine and bitters before returning anew to discussion, apparently refreshed. Finally, the writer traced the word “cocktail” back to an unsavory term listed in Frances Grose’s volume THE DEFINITION OF THE VULGAR TONGUE. In it, the recorder delights in the infinitive “to feague,” which apparently was the practice of inserting enough ginger or pepper into a horse’s hind quarters to allow its tail to raise naturally. Such a “cock-tail” was an attractive quality for occasions like parades and sales.

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