24 Well-Known Cocktails in the World And How They Get Their Names

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The origins of the names of all these well-known cocktails are not easy to pin down as many people claim it as their invention. Most of the classic cocktails’ names are still shrouded in mystery but if you’re looking to dive in for more details, take this opportunity to find out how these cocktails are made.

1. Piña Colada

A sweet cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut or coconut milk and pineapple juice, served either blended or shaken with ice that originates from Puerto Rico. The name Piña Colada means “strained pineapple” in Spanish. Traces to the Latin roots pinea(pineapple) and collar(“to strain”).

2. Sazerac

Claimed to be the oldest American cocktail which traditionally combines cognac or rye whiskey, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters, and sugar. Named after Sazerac de Forge et Fils, a type of brandy that was mainly used as an ingredient in the original cocktail.

3. Screwdriver

A well-known alcoholic highball drink made with orange juice and vodka. Invented by oil workers in the Persian Gulf who did not have spoons to stir it together, so they used screwdrivers instead.

4. Sidecar

A cocktail traditionally made with cognac, orange liquor, plus lemon juice. The name was used to refer to shot glasses that bartenders poured their excess liquor into.

5. Tom Collins

A cocktail made from gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water. The cocktail refers to an old joke where people would inform their friends that a man named Tom Collins insulted them.

6. White Russian

Made with vodka, coffee liqueur and cream served with ice. The cocktail is named after Russia because of vodka being related to the country. The White part refers to the use of the cream.

7. Negroni

A popular Italian cocktail made of gin, vermouth rosso, campari and garnished with orange peel. Created in 1919 when an Italian count named Camillo Negroni requested for a stronger version of the Americano.

8. Moscow Mule

A cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, lime juice and garnished with a slice or wedge of lime. The Moscow part is because the vodka was related to Russia, and the Mule part signifies the drink has a “kick”.

9. Mojito

A traditional Cuban cocktail that combines an alcoholic base spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer. A 1946 borrowing from Cuban Spanish mojo, meaning “sauce”. That’s from the verb mojar, “to moisten”.

10. Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is a mixed cocktail that consists of bourbon, sugar, water, crushed or shaved ice and fresh mint. A julep is a type of sweet-flavoured drink. The word traces to Persian gulab meaning “rose water”.

11. Mimosa

A cocktail composed of champagne and chilled citrus juice. Named after the mimosa flower due to its distinctive yellow colour. Ultimately from Latin mimus, meaning “mime”.

12. Martini

The Martini is made with gin, vermouth and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Named in 1886, either after Italian vermouth company Martini and Rossi or after the Martinez cocktail.

13. French 75

A cocktail made from gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar. Named in the 1920s after a World War 1 artillery weapon to evoke feelings of power and hope.

14. Gimlet

The Gimlet is made of 2 parts gin and 1 part lime juice. Named after a tool used for drilling small holes. Utilize figuratively to describe its “piercing” effect on drinkers.

15. Long Island Iced Tea

A type of alcoholic mixed drink made with vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin and cola. Named because its amber colour is similar to iced tea, and because it was created at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island.

16. Mai Tai

The Mai Tai is based on rum, Curacao liqueur, orgeat syrup and lime juice. The first person to drink it exclaimed mai tai ro ae, which means “very good” in Tahitian.

17. Manhattan

A cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. Likely invented at New York’s Manhattan Club and it’s also known as the Turf of Jockey Club cocktail.

18. Margarita

The margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice often served with salt on the rim of the glass. A Spanish nickname, either for film actress Marjorie King or for wealthy Texan socialite Margaret Sames.

19. Dark ‘N’ Stormy

A mixed alcoholic drink made with Goslings Black Seal Rum and ginger beer served over ice and garnished with a slice of lime. Named when an old British soldier stated it resembled “the colour of a cloud that only a fool…would sail under”.

20. Daiquiri

The Daiquiri is a family of cocktails whose main ingredients include rum, citrus juice and sugar or other sweeteners. Created in the late 19th century in a Cuban mining town called Daiquiri, it’s almost called a “rum sour” instead.

21. Cosmopolitan

A cocktail made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and freshly squeezed or sweetened lime juice. The word means “worldly”. The first person who drank it said “how cosmopolitan”, and the cocktail retains the name.

22. Caipirinha

Known as Brazil’s national cocktail which is made with sugarcane hard liquor, sugar and line. The name was derived in 1973 from the Brazilian Portuguese word caipira, which translated to “hillbilly”.

23. Bramble

A cocktail that is best described as a spring cocktail that is made with dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, creme de mure and crushed ice. The creator of this cocktail got its name when he was travelling in southern England as a child on a blackberry picking trip.

24. Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary is a cocktail containing vodka, tomato juice, various spices and other flavourings such as Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and celery salt. Named after either Queen Mary I of England or a waitress who worked in a bar called the Bucket of Blood.

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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

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