The First Cocktail
The history of fermenting, distilling and drinking dates back further than history can even record. We are talking the Egyptians and Pyramids thousands of years before Caesar and Cleopatra. However the cocktail is something of the “modern age” and first appears in text in the 1800s.
There will be arguments as to which cocktail actually called for a recipe, and even what the ingredients should be. But like any recipe, they would vary from region to region, to state to state, and eventually country to country.
What we know is that the cocktail is uniquely American. While the roots may have been created by immigrants, the fact is you can add this one into the category of one of America’s great achievements to society. It is right up there with electricity, recorded music, movies, Hollywood and Rock & Roll.
It is safe to say the Old Fashioned, appropriately named, was the first cocktail. But even still, some local place in New Orleans wanted to make it a “Signature Cocktail” and named it something different while giving it a twist. The Sazerac was basically cognac, sugar and a splash of Absinthe and Peychaud bitters. All French, which make sense since New Orleans was the melting pot of French and Creole immigrants.
But being short of money and/or imported spirits like cognac, soon it became the Old Fashioned which uses American made bourbon or rye, sugar, and a splash of Angostura bitters.
The Martini came decades, perhaps even a half century later when Prohibition gave birth to many of the cocktails that still exist today nearly a century later.