The History of Cocktails

After reviewing our cocktail menu recently, I thought it would be interesting to do a little bit of research into the history of cocktails. Where they originated from and how long they have been around.

The first cocktails were a lot different to the ones that we have come to know today. Initially a punch made in larger bowls, rather than a single served drink.

Astonishingly, the very first ones date back to 1731.

The inventor of these was a man named James Ashley. After abandoning his Cheese Wholesale business; 33 year old James opened his punch house 'London Coffee House and Punch House' near St Paul’s Cathedral.

James was a fan of Brandy, Rum and Arrack and these appeared commonly in the punches made.

Those of you like me wondering what on Earth Arrack is; Arrack is a distilled alcoholic drink typically produced in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers or sugarcane, and also with grain or fruit.

James Ashley was the very first celebrity bartender, despite this it is believed he will never have actually made a drink himself; At the time, men were the patrons and women were brought in to look pretty and do all the serving. Think of him as like a boozy orchestra conductor.

Once the concept of these cocktails reached the shores of the United States, a wider array of Liqueurs and ingredients were used. For instance, the Martini and also the Manhattan were created from mixing wine with Spirits.

There was also the introduction of Ice once this was made available, allowing drinks to be served chilled rather than at room temperature, giving a different depth to the cocktail.

Some of today’s most commonly known cocktails (and also my favorites) are;


Espresso Martini

Pimm’s and Lemonade

Pina Colada

Passion Fruit Martini (also known as Pornstar Martini)

Strawberry Daiquiri

Old Fashioned

For me a firm favorite is the Espresso Martini, able to give you that double hit of Caffeine and alcohol. One gives you the confidence to get up on that dance floor and the other giving you the energy to stay there.

What’s your favorite?