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History of the Cocktail

History of the Cocktail

People used to drink in taverns, hotels and restaurants, but they were different than the places we know today. There was no ice until the early 1880s and there were very few mixed drinks like we know them until the middle of the 18th century. Since the dawn of civilization, there have been servants in taverns and landlords in inns, but can we call them bartenders? In many cases, there wasn’t even an actual bar! In those days, women played a vital role in bartending: they were in charge of brewing and distilling, because they were seen as activities akin to baking bread. In 1800’s, it was worked out professionally.


In Paris, France, what is considered to be the first genuine restaurant was opened, owned by A. Boulanger.


The first printed publication with the word ‘cocktail’, in the Balance & Colombian Repository, an upstate New York newspaper.


Delmonico’s restaurant is opened in New York, the first real restaurant in the New World.


Jerry ‘the profesor’ Thomas publishes the Bartender’s Guide, the world’s first guide to bartending and mixing drinks. Thomas is the spiritual father of the profession of bartender and is considered the world’s first mixologist, first flair bartender and first celebrity barman. The book contained many recipes, which he had collected from other barmen on his travels, as well as many of his own. The book is a revelation and is as useful now as it was then.


A party organized by Jenny Jerome (mother of Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during WW II) popularizes the recipe for Manhattan that we know today. Many mixologists see the Martinez and its descendant the dry martini, as direct adjustments of the Manhattan.


The cash register is invented by a bar owner called James Jacob Ritty in Ohio, US.


First recipe published for the Martini, in Harry Johnson’s New and Improved Bartender’s Guide.


First published mention of the Martinez.



The 1919 Volstead Act goes into effect and marks the start of prohibition in the States and makes it illegal to buy or sell alcohol anywhere in the US. Skilled bartenders leave the US to start the cocktail trend in Europe and Cuba. Drinks change forever: because of the poor quality bootleg or moonshine liquor, bartenders need to invent drinks that mask the original liquor. The use of bitters in cocktails starts to take off in a big way. A positive note is that women are much more accepted in bars, because illegal bar owners want to make all the money they can.


Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt opens the first Tiki bar in Hollywood, LA, called Don the Beachcomber. Tiki bars are theme bars inspired by Polynesian and Hawaiian culture. They have a tropical atmosphere with bamboo rods, tiki masks, water ornaments and a jungle décor. Another influential tiki bar was Trader Vic’s, founded by Victor Bergeron in California in 1936. Tiki bars flourished for about 30 years.

“Cocktail, a stimulating drink, made with any kind of liquor, sugar, water and bitters. In vulgar terms, it’s called a bitter slinger, and it is supposed to be an excellent election drink, in that is makes the heart strong and bold, while at the same time clouding the mind”, before they went out of fashion. In the 1990’s, the tiki culture was revived by a new generation of tiki fans.


What is usually considered to be the first singles bar is opened in New York City, the first TGI Friday’s. Owner Allan Stillman just wanted a bar that would attract single girls, so everything – the décor, the music, food and drinks – was designed to appeal to young women and to be fun. This template for the modern singles bar – a relaxed, informal setting with different, interesting food and drinks where men and women are welcome whether alone or in groups and can meet in a relaxed atmosphere – is by now the template for every modern bar on the planet. Friday is also credited with continuing the blended drink trend, creating the modern type of bartending and creating an objective technical skill training for bartenders.


The first modern bars open. These bars are based on the same principles as Friday’s singles bars, but more modern and focused even more on women: amazing interiors, high quality food and drinks, relaxed background music and generally speaking with a more stylish, subdued atmosphere than the thumping music and bottle tossing found in the singles bars. 57-57 in the Four Seasons in New York and the Atlantic Bar & Grill in London are seen as the first examples of this type of bar: within a few years, there were thousands more like them. These also were the heydays of the Cosmopolitan cocktail: adults were used to ordering a strong, stylish drink in a cocktail glass with premium ingredients.


The second golden age of bartending begins. Bartending once more becomes a respected profession and barmen have access to the best and most exciting products. There is a global network of brands and people from the sector that bring bartending to a higher level.


Cocktails are totally hot at the moment. But making a good cocktail requires knowledge and skill. It’s all about the right ingredients, creating the right flavor and using the right preparation techniques. And that is exactly what you will learn at our cocktail workshop. So do you want to learn how to make cocktails yourself, or learn the skills of a real bartender or bar lady?

Enter the magical world of cocktail shaking and learn all its secrets. Our professional bartenders will gladly teach you the tricks of the trade.


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