The Emergence of the Modern Cocktail
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Have you ever found yourself sipping on a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or a Cosmopolitan and wondering, “Who was the clever mind that came up with this deliciously sweet concoction?” At Long Wongs AZ Famous Wings, a sports bar in West Phoenix, we’re known for our pizza and wings, but we also love a good cocktail. And since the evolution of the cocktail comes with such a good story, we thought we’d share.
Spirited Drinks in the 19th Century
In the early to mid-1800s, the world of mixed drinks was rather narrow, encompassing primarily punches, toddies and slings. Essentially, these beverages were nothing more than whiskey, gin or brandy, sweetened with a little sugar—and often served hot. Punches were the functional option at the time because drinking has always been a communal affair and they could be made easily, serve a lot of people, and their fruit juice/water content helped mask, what was back then, quite harsh tasting spirits. Slings, the precursor to the modern cocktail, came about as the single-serve offspring of punch, which made grabbing an individualized drink at the local bar much more accessible.
The Bartender Who Started It All
But it wasn’t until a little later in the 19th century to early 20th century that the cocktail began to evolve into what we know it as today. And the risky and ingenious man who started the craze, Jerry Thomas. Born in 1830 in Sackets Harbor, New York, Jerry Thomas meddled in a variety of professions including bartender, gold prospector and minstrel show manager.
His professions took him across the United States and back, and as he wandered Thomas experimented, picking up on different trends happening around the country until he finally settled back in New York where he opened several of his own bars. His signature drink, called the Blue Blazer, was an exciting pyrotechnic show where flaming bourbon was tossed between two steel mugs and the blue blaze was finally poured into a cocktail glass and then tapped out.
And Then He Wrote the Book!
Thomas is famously known as the Father of mixed drinks in part because he published one of the first known books on mixology, The Bon Vivant’s Companion or How to Mix Drinks. If one were to take a look at the universe of drinks in the middle of the 19th century, they’d see a shift reflecting Thomas’s bar book, when drinks began to be served individually, over ice and with fruit! Such drinks as the Collins, the fizz, the daisy (in Spanish, margarita), and the sour all emerged at this time.
If all of this talk of cocktails is making you thirsty, then why not head over to Long Wongs AZ Famous Wings, a sports bar in West Phoenix, and quench your thirst while snacking on some wings and enjoying the game. We promise the food and drink won’t disappoint!