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Cocktails can bring with them a wide array of flavors and experiences, from a classic martini (shaken, not stirred) to a red pepper margarita.

And they must be fairly special because they also have a variety of items named after them. Cocktail dresses, cocktail hour and even shrimp cocktail, just to name a few! 

National Cocktail Day is here to enjoy and celebrate the beauty and versatility of the vast array of delectable mixed drinks known as cocktails.

History of National Cocktail Day

Compared to wine, beer and ale, cocktails are a slightly newer version of alcoholic beverage that probably got their start at some time in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Their creation may have been inspired by British punches of the century that were made from fruit juices, spices and, of course, spirits. In more recent years, the work of cocktail mixing and tending bar has become something much like cooking – a bit of science and a bit of artistry all rolled into one.

Some historians believe that the Sazerac may have been one of the first cocktails that was ever created. The story goes that, in 1838, a Creole apothecary invented a drink in his shop in New Orleans, Louisiana. It seems that it was originally served to patrons in an egg cup or “coquetier”, which some people believe may have been part of the development of the word “cocktail”. However, this idea might be a bit of a stretch because the word “cocktail” was likely on the scene at least a few decades prior.

When Prohibition came upon the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, cocktails became a way of masking the often undesirable flavor of alcohol. Because alcohol had to be produced ‘underground’, it was often of lower quality and didn’t exactly taste great. So fruit juices, honey and other flavors were added to mask the bad taste of the liquor, which was often just moonshine.

Even today, new cocktails are constantly being developed, with some of the strangest and most unique combinations to make a beverage. Today, cocktails are mixed not only based on flavor, but the color and presentation are also very important. Some newer cocktails will even change color like magic!

But some of the older, well-known cocktails are often named as favorites for their status as beloved classics. Whether it’s a Martini, an Old Fashioned, a Gimlet or a Manhattan, ordering one of these favorite cocktails offers a sense of history, nostalgia and gravitas, all rolled into one.

National Cocktail Day was founded by holiday guru, freelance writer and columnist, Jace Shoemaker-Galloway, who really just wanted to provide a fun time to celebrate the varied and delightful aspects of these wonderful mixed drinks called cocktails. National Cocktail Day takes place in March, followed a couple of months later by World Cocktail Day

National Cocktail Day Timeline

1806

The term “cocktail” is first defined

The Balance, and Columbian Repository defines the cocktail as “a stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water and bitters”. [1]

1862

Bartender’s Guide is published for making cocktails

As cocktails and mixed drinks continue to grow in popularity, the need for bartenders becomes more important. [2]

1932

Cocktail umbrellas are first used

In Waikiki, Hawaii, the cocktail umbrella is first implemented by bartender Harry Yee. [3]

1942

Margarita is created

Now one of the most ordered cocktail drinks in the world, the margarita is invented in Mexico. [4]

1988

Movie Cocktail is released

This film starring Tom Cruise is a huge hit at the box office.[5]

How to Celebrate National Cocktail Day

Get on board with celebrating National Cocktail Day with a variety of interesting ways to enjoy the day. Have fun with some of these ideas:

Try a New Cocktail

Grab a few coworkers to head out for drinks after a long day. Or message a few friends to meet at a bar or restaurant for the evening. Or perhaps just meet that special someone for a drink. In any case, National Cocktail Day is a great time to try out a new and different cocktail. Whether it’s a classic that you’ve just never gotten around to trying, or something new you’ve heard about, this is the time to give it a go. It might even be fun, in honor of the day, to let the bartender mix up a drink for you as a surprise!

Learn About Some Fun Facts About Cocktails

Raise awareness for National Cocktail Day by sharing some tidbits of information that will pique the interest of friends, family or coworkers. Then invite them out for a cocktail to celebrate! Here are some fun bits of trivia to get started with:

  • Though the variations are myriad, experts say that there really are only six types of cocktails: Old Fashioned, Sour, Martini, Highball, Daiquiri and Flip.

  • The Guinness world record for the largest cocktail was set in 2012 in Sacramento when Nick Nicora made a margarita that was almost 10,500 gallons.

  • One of the most complicated cocktails ever made is the Commonwealth. It was created to include 71 different ingredients as a nod to the 71 countries competing in the 20th Commonwealth games in 2014.

Make Cocktails at Home

Those who have even just a few bottles of liquor, liqueurs and mixers can have a little bit of fun celebrating on National Cocktail Day. Act like a pro mixologist and try out some recipes that are new and interesting. Or perhaps this would be a good time to try creating a new and outrageous cocktail. Finding recipes for cocktails online is really easy so just gather some ingredients, make sure there’s enough ice, and have a lovely celebration at home.

Host a Cocktail Party

What could be more appropriate on National Cocktail Day than hosting a cocktail party where guests can wear cocktail dresses, suits and ties? It can be such fun to get dressed up once in a while and spend time with friends. And perhaps even serve some hors d’oeuvres, such as shrimp cocktail!

It might even be a good idea to set a theme for the cocktail party that lets guests get into character and have a good time. For instance, try a James Bond themed party, Black and White Everything, Retro theme, Disco, the Roaring 20’s and so many other inspiring ways to go. Everyone at the cocktail party can enjoy drinks, snacks, and even music that is based on the theme.

National Cocktail Day FAQs

Do cocktails have alcohol?

Yes, a key element to cocktails is alcohol.

Does cocktail attire require a tie?

Yes, cocktail attire requires a suit and tie. [1]

Was Cocktail filmed in Jamaica?

Yes, the Caribbean scenes in this Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue movie from 1988 were filmed in Ocho Rios, a town in Saint Ann, Jamaica.[2]

Where did cocktails originate?

Cocktails can trace their history to British punches, but true mixed drinks are thought to have started in the United States.[3]

Can cocktails make you drunk?

Yes, cocktails contain alcohol and can make a person drunk. [4]

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