Quick Recipes and Easy

The Origin of the Cocktail

The cocktail has the distinction of being an original American drink.

Its origins are murky, but the most common accounts name one Antoine Amedee
Peychaud, a young Creole from a distinguished French family, as the originator of
the drink.

Peychaud, along with wealthy plantation owners, fled his home in the French
controlled part of the island of Hispaniola during the slave uprisings of
1793.

Peychaud, trained as an apothecary, settled in New Orleans and set up shop in the
French Quarter. Along with his education, he had salvaged an ancient secret family
recipe for the compounding of a liquid tonic called bitters.

The bitters were excellent for whatever ailed you. And they added zest to the
cognac brandy he served friends and others who wandered into his pharmacy.

Fame of the concoction spread. Soon the ubiquitous New Orleans coffee
houses, as liquor dispensing establishments were then called, were offering
their French brandy spiked with a dash of the marvelous bitters compounded by M.
Peychaud.

He had a unique way of serving his brandy libation. He poured parts into a
double egg cup. The French speaking population called such a device a
coquetier (pronounced kah-kuh-tyay). The speculation is that the
pronunciation of the French word eventually corrupted into the present day
cocktail.

New Orleans based Museum of the American Cocktail displays the first known
written reference to the drink on its website,
www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org. On the front page of May 6, 1806 issue of
The Balance and Columbian Repository, a Hudson, N.Y., newspaper. In
response to a reader’s request, an editor defined a cocktail as “a stimulating liquor,
composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.”

The editor then goes on to say that it is “supposed to be an brilliant electioneering
potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it
fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of fantastic use to a democratic candidate:
because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing
else.”

Stanley Clisby Arthur, author of Well-known New Orleans Drinks and how to mix
‘em, mentions a writer who refers to the older term cocktail, meaning
a horse whose tail, being docked, sticks up like the tail of a cock. He adds: ‘Since
drinkers of cocktails believe them to be exhilarating, a once well loved song Horsy,
keep your tail up, may perhaps hint at a possible connection between the two
senses of cocktail.

The Classic Sazerac Cocktail

1 lump sugar
3 drops Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 jigger rye whiskey
1 dash absinthe substitute
1 slice lemon peel

Start with two heavy-bottomed, 3 ½ ounce bar glasses. Fill one with cracked ice and
allow it to chill. In the other, place a lump of sugar with just enough water to
moisten it.

The saturated loaf of sugar is then crushed with a barspoon. Add a few drops of
Peychaud’s bitters, a dash of Angostura, and a jigger of rye whiskey.

Add add several lumps of ice to the glass containing sugar, bitters, and rye and stir.
Never use a shaker!

Empty the ice from the first glass, dash in several drops of absinthe, twirl the glass
and shake out the absinthe … enough will cling to the glass to add the needed
flavor.

Strain the whiskey mixture into this glass, twist a piece of lemon peel over it for the
needed zest of that small drop of oil thus extracted from the peel, but do not
commit the sacrilege of dropping the peel into the drink.

Delight in.

About the Author

Ellen M. Zucker owns faces-and-fortunes-partytips.com faces-and-fortunes-partytips.com a site where
you can find advice on party and event plotting from Party Pros. It includes tips,
interviews, and advice on putting your event together from professionals who make
parties and special events happen.

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