A Cocktail Time Line

1800's - 1860's

Cocktails were first noted in an 1806 magazine entitled, "The Balance". The Practical Housewife in 1860 reminds us to make sure the water is boiling for our Toddy. A Swizzle was first named for the action a twig took in the drink, originating in the Caribbean.




At the Manhattan Club in 1874, a bartender invented the Manhattan at the request of Sir Winston Churchill's mother, Lady Randolph Churchill who gave the party for Samuel J. Tilden, politician.



Coca-Cola was invented in 1886. This could contribute to this classic cocktail originating near end of the Spanish-American War which translated means, "Free Cuba".

Cuba Libre


Although claimed by Patrick Gavin Duffy, author of The Official Mixer's Manual, the Highball probably comes from a St. Louis saloon owned by John Slaughtery who catered to railroad workers. The glass was called a ball back then. Workers only had time for a quick drink, and thus named their whiskey and water a highball. The railroad signal that was a ball on a high pole to tell an engineer to speed up was named for the drink.



Absinthe was one of the few socially acceptable drinks a woman could partake of and was often served in coffee houses. The Ward Eight hails from Locke-Ober Cafe in Boston where patron Martin Lomasney was running for office in 1898. Bartender, Patrick Fogarty concoted it on the eve of the election.

Absinthe Cocktail

Ward 8


The Singapore Sling was invented at Raffle's Hotel in Singapore in 1915. The Doughboys brought home the French 75 named after a French gun. Originally it was probably mixed with Brandy instead of Gin. Put two cocktail onions on a skewer in a Martini, and you have a Gibson. It was named after Charles Gibson creator of the corseted Gibson Girls. Although the original drink did not contain the onions, Gary Regan*, author of The Martini Companion believes these were added in the 30's by a bartender at NY's Player's Club, for Gibson himself.

Singapore Sling

French 75



Prohibition began in 1920. A Speakeasy was the only place to get a decent drink, and no respectable Flapper would be seen without her flask neatly tied to her leg. Most cocktails only masked the taste of inferior booze. Fruit was added to the standard Old Fashioned at this time just for this purpose. Though the Mint Julep dates back before the 1800's, F. Scott Fitzgerald gave the drink a popularity boost in his 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby.

Between the Sheets

Old Fashioned

Mint Julep


Though invented somewhere around the turn of the century, the Martini holds its most notable place in history in the swank of the 30's. FDR toasted the end of prohibition in 1933 with a Dirty Martini. Hollywood's Don the Beachcomber restaurant is the home of the Zombie. The Bacardi Cocktail by order of the New York State Supreme Court in 1936 has to be made with Bacardi Rum to be authentic.



Bacardi Cocktail


The Moscow Mule originated in Hollywood's Cock N' Bull in 1946 due to an over abundance of Ginger Beer. Trader Vic invented the Mai Tai in 1944 at his Hinky Dinks restaurant. A Tahitian patron, Mrs. Wright proclaimed, "Mai Tai, Roa Ae" or "Out of this world, the best!"

Moscow Mule

Mai Tai


The 50's have been called the "Atomic Age" as the first missile with an Atomic Warhead was tested.. A Screwdriver is actually named after the tool, possibly because it was used to stir the drink. The Bellini is named after Giovanni Bellini's fabulous pink hues in his paintings. Giuseppe Cipriani of Harry's Bar in Venice was its creator in 1948.




JFK proclaimed the not so new Daiquiri as his favorite aperitif, thus boosting its popularity. Highballs were still popular. Ol Blue Eyes himself enjoyed two fingers of Jack Daniels and water only in an Old Fashioned glass rather than a highball glass.




The 70's brought us Watergate, platform shoes and Disco! Ferns adorned the clubs and sweet was definitely the grooviest in cocktails. The Pina Colada was probably created in 1954 by bartender Ramon (Monchito) Marrero at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico, but its popularity soared during this time.

Tequila Sunrise

Pina Colada

Harvey Wallbanger


The trend towards wine took over this decade. What did evolve were some crazy shooters and fun type cocktails.


Surfer on Acid


The 90's have found us getting back to the basics with a few new twists. Cigars are chic once again and not just for men! Classic cocktails are enjoyed in Cigar Lounges which seem to be popping up everywhere.


Hennessey Martini

Debonair Cocktail*


For the new millennium, I invented a new cocktail just for the occasion.



Old is back! Gin Martinis, Bourbon Old Fashioned's, Whiskey Neat, 

*Many thanks to Gary Regan, author of The Bartender's Bible, The Martini Companion, and New Classic Cocktails for his contributions to this article.