History: The Cocktail

July 17th, 2013 | by Lynn Lieu | Comments


The bartending industry is like that of fashion in many ways. There are scenes, trends and what’s in one day may not always be in the next. From New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles, like fashion, bartending trends jump from city to city.

The Coachella Valley has always been known for it’s twists on martinis and margaritas, but throughout the desert hidden gems exist in the bar scene. The craft cocktail has been rearing its head throughout hot markets for years and it seems the desert has followed suit. With places like Workshop Kitchen + Bar, Twenty6, Bar and Sassper’s Tapas and Bistro, the evolution is just continuing: see this week’s Food and Drink cover.

The evolution of the cocktail traces back to early colonial days of the country. According to Sassper’s Javier Santana, who is a member of the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG), the cocktail began it’s evolution at rum and brandy:

“In the beginning it was brandy or rum and then when you plug in the history with taxes and wars … and molasses and all that stuff basically not being brought into the United States, we turned to whiskey. From there we got into prohibition. Prohibition eliminated all of the aging whiskey in the United States, basically it did away with the entire alcohol business. From there we jumped right back into gin and into vodka. Then with the ’50s, ’60s and I think the death of the cocktails in the ’70s, everything was prepackaged and everything was out to make a quick buck. The evolution has gone from a regular cocktail, you know rum punches,to cocktails, to nothing, to prepackaged gross things… know when you use just disgusting prepackaged lemon, lime different things like that.”

Here are three of my favorite classic cocktails:

The Sazerac – A variation of the more popular Old Fashioned and traces its roots back to New Orleans.This recipe from Esquire stays pretty true to the basic formula. Some places make theirs with orange instead of lime but I love this drink so much I’m down for any variation.


Pimm’s Cup – In most bars Pimm’s Cup is a gin cocktail following the original Pimm’s No. 1 Cup recipe, but it’s history traces back to a number of variations concocted by liquor company featuring whiskey, rum and vodka to name a few. Recipewise outlines a few variations.Pimms-Cocktail-Main


Moscow Mule - One of my favorite refreshing drinks, sometimes tough to find, the Moscow Mule is a vodka, ginger beer and lime cocktail popular during the ’50s. Bon Appetit has the basic recipe but I prefer mine in copper mugs and with a large cube if possible. Substitute the glass for a mug, regular cubes for the cube and you’re all set.


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