Cocktail. Our modern word for booze concoctions of all kinds. Ever hear of Fizzes, Juleps, or Toddies? Mixed drinks have been around since time began. The Romans used to mix their wine with spices and juices of all kinds. I’m sure the Aztecs did the same with pulque.
But what about the word ‘cocktail’ itself? When did it first appear as a staple word in the English language.
The most popular story as to its origins involves a lady named Betsy Flanagan. Perhaps you’ve heard it? Well, here it is in a nutshell:
In 1779 a woman by the name of Betsy Flanagan owned a tavern near Yorktown, New York. Men from Washington’s army used to hang out at this establishment to relax their worries and energize themselves with concoctions of alcohol known as bracers. Many of the officers used to tease old Betsy about the chickens that one of her close neighbors had next door. Seems the neighbor was a Tory. Well, one day she decided to make them all eat their words.
Back in those days, no true patriot would buy anything from a Tory. It just wasn’t done. Political correctness and all. So, Betsy arranged a wonderful chicken dinner for them. When they finished feasting on the delicious birds they continued their celebrations at the bar with more bracers. To their merriment they found each bottle or ‘bracer’ festooned with a cock’s tail from the Tory chicken farmers coop. They laughed and laughed and a toast was called for and one of the men (I think he was French) exclaimed:
“Vive le cocktail”
Betsy was a popular gal it seems. Since that day forward all of Betsy’s concoctions were simply known as the cocktail, a name that we still use today to describe the inebriating drinks we so love to imbibe from time to time.
As to the cocktail feather itself? It is also said the colors represent all the mixed ingredients used to make flavored drink concoctions. Another ‘tale’ in Mexico tells of a rooster feather being used to stir the drinks served in local establishments.
Another derivation of the word cocktail may also come from the Aztec goddess known as Xochitl which means flower. Maybe the Aztecs garnished their pulque with flowers and other colorful edibles?
“Cola de Gallo”
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