AskDefine | Define cocktail

Dictionary Definition



1 a short mixed drink
2 an appetizer served as a first course at a meal

User Contributed Dictionary

see Cocktail



Origin uncertain, but possibly:
  • from the colorfull tail of a cock, as Webster's suggests
  • from cocktay, the English form of the French coquetier, meaning 'eggcup', in which Antoine Amédée Peychaud, an apothecary, served brandy toddies mixed with his own invention, Peychaud bitters, at Masonic social gatherings in his pharmacy in New Orleans, c.1795,
  • from cokstele or cock-stick, a type of weighted stick designed for throwing at cocks as a sport. See Cock throwing.


  1. An alcoholic beverage containing multiple types of liquor
    They visited a pub noted for the wide range of cocktails they serve.
    • 1806, 13 May 1806 edition of Balance and Columbian Repository, published by Hudson, New York, (first appearance in print):
      Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.
  2. A mixture of other substances.
    "Scientists found a cocktail of pollutants in the river downstream of the chemical factory."


Derived terms


  • Chinese: 雞尾酒, 鸡尾酒 (jīwéijiǔ)
  • Croatian: koktel
  • Czech: koktejl
  • Dutch: cocktail
  • Estonian: kokteil
  • French: cocktail
  • German: Cocktail
  • Greek: κοκταϊλ (koktél)
  • Japanese: カクテル
  • Korean: 칵테일 (kakteil)
  • Polish: koktajl
  • Russian: коктейль (koktéjl’)
  • Slovene: koktejl
  • Spanish: coctel, cóctel
  • Swedish: cocktail

See also



From cocktail.


  • /ˈkɔkteil/


  1. cocktail



From cocktail.


  • /kɔkˈtɛl/, /kOk.tEl/


fr-noun m



From cocktail.


cocktail (plural: cocktailar)

Extensive Definition

A cocktail is a style of mixed drink. Originally a mixture of distilled spirits, sugar, water, and bitters, the word has gradually come to mean almost any mixed drink containing alcohol. A cocktail today usually contains one or more types of liquor and flavorings and one or more liqueurs, fruit juices, sugar, honey, water, ice, soda, milk, cream, herbs, bitters, etc.
Until the 1970s, cocktails were made predominantly with gin, whiskey or rum, and less commonly vodka. From the 1970s on, the popularity of vodka increased dramatically, and by the 1980s it was the predominant base for mixed drinks. Many cocktails traditionally made with gin, such as the gimlet, or the martini, may now be served by default with vodka.


The earliest known printed use of the word "cocktail," as originally determined by David Wondrich in October 2005 , was from "The Farmer's Cabinet", April 28, 1803, p [2]: "11. Drank a glass of cocktail — excellent for the head ... Call'd at the Doct's. found Burnham — he looked very wise — drank another glass of cocktail."
The second earliest and officially recognised known printed use of the word "cocktail" (and the most well-known) was in the May 13 1806 edition of the Balance and Columbian Repository, a publication in Hudson, New York , where the paper provided the following answer to what a cocktail was:
''"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a Democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else."
The Sazerac, which is one of the oldest known cocktails, dates back as far as the 1850s
The first publication of a bartenders' guide which included cocktail recipes was in 1862: How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon Vivant's Companion'', by "Professor" Jerry Thomas. In addition to listings of recipes for Punches, Sours, Slings, Cobblers, Shrubs, Toddies, Flips, and a variety of other types of mixed drinks were 10 recipes for drinks referred to as "Cocktails". A key ingredient which differentiated "cocktails" from other drinks in this compendium was the use of bitters as an ingredient, although it is not to be seen in very many modern cocktail recipes.
The first "cocktail party" ever thrown was allegedly by Mrs. Julius S. Walsh Jr. of St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1917. Mrs. Walsh invited 50 guests to her mansion at noon on a Sunday. The party lasted one hour, until lunch was served at 1pm. The site of the first cocktail party still stands. In 1924 the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis bought the Walsh mansion at 4510 Lindell Blvd., and it has served as the local archbishop's residence ever since.
During Prohibition in the United States (19201933), when the sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, cocktails were still consumed illegally in establishments known as speakeasies. The quality of the alcohol available was far lower than was previously used, and bartenders generally put forth less effort in preparing the cocktails.
  • The beverage was named for a mixed breed horse, known as a "cock-tail" as the beverage, like the horse, was neither strictly spirit nor wine — it was a mixed breed.
  • After cokstele or cock-stick, a type of weighted stick used for throwing at cocks as a sport. See Cock throwing.
  • The word could also be a distortion of Latin [aqua] decocta, meaning "distilled water".
  • In the village of Elmsford in Westchester County, New York a local bar ran out of stirrers and resorted to use a cock's tail feathers to stir the drink.
  • In the book, Under the Mountain, by Margaret Robson, published in 1958, the author states, "James Fenimore Cooper stayed (at Hustler's Tavern) in Lewiston, New York in 1821 while writing The Spy. Cooper used the owners, Thomas and Catherine Hustler in his story as the models for Sergeant Hollister and Betty Flanigan. According to Cooper, it was Catherine Hustler who invented the gin cocktail, stirring it with a feather from a stuffed rooster's tail." Catherine Hustler described her drink by saying, "it warms both the soul and body and is fit to be put in a vessel of diamonds." Hustler's Tavern, which stood at the northeast corner of 8th and Center Streets in Lewiston, NY, is no longer standing.

Cocktail personalities


  • Daniel Rogers - Founder of 5 Senses Cocktail Course, Sydney Australia. Website:
  • Adam Freeth - Founder of Shaker BarSchools, UK and South Africa. Author of 'Professional Bartending'. Website:
  • Nick Mautone - Author of "Raising the Bar; Better Drinks Better Entertaining". Beverage Expert and food service consultant, former Managing Partner of Gramercy Tavern, NYC and partner in Trina Lounge in Fort Lauderdale.
  • Simon Difford — UK drinks expert and author of 'sauceguide to cocktails' and 'diffordsguide to cocktails', now in its 7th edition.
  • Wayne Curtis — rum expert and author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails
  • Dale "King Cocktail" DeGroff — author of The Craft of the Cocktail and bartender at New York's famous Rainbow Room. Founder and current president of The Museum of the American Cocktail. Website:
  • Eric Felten - Author of How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal also titled How’s Your Drink? which appears on Saturdays
  • Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh — author of Vintage Spirit and Forgotten Cocktails, proprietor of, founding member and curator of The Museum of the American Cocktail
  • Joe Gilmore — one of the longest running Head Barmen at The Savoy Hotel's American Bar and inventor of many cocktails, including several for Winston Churchill
  • Robert "Drinkboy" Hess — prominent cocktail authority and proprietor of Founder and current secretary of The Museum of the American Cocktail
  • Gary and Mardee Regan — creators of Regan’s Bitters, authors of many books including The Joy of Mixology and New Classic Cocktails, founding members of The Museum of the American Cocktail
  • Audrey Saunders — former bartender at Bemelmans Bar (New York City), proprietor of the Pegu Club (New York City), prominent mixologist
  • David Wondrich — author of Esquire Drinks and founding member of The Museum of the American Cocktail
  • Stephen Kittredge Cunningham — author of The Bartender's Black Book now in its 8th edition.
  • Charles Schumann - author of America Bar
  • A.J. Rathbun - Seattle-based mixologist, and author of "Party Drinks!" and "Good Spirits"
  • Sebastian Reaburn-prominent cocktail authority,Historian and proprietor of 1806. and
  • Paulo Ramos- Founder of cocktail academy Portugal, one of the first to introduce freestyle bartending in Europe.
  • Javier Lauria - Classic Argentinian Bartender - Promoter of "High Style Cocktails"
  • Stefanie Marco - former Ambassador for Allied Domecq Spirits, bartender Soho and Tribeca Grand in NYC, pioneer of Stirrings Better Cocktails brands, prominent mixologist
  • Ryan D. Mayer - Columnist "Sense of Spirit" History and Culture behind famous New Orleans Cocktails, credits in "Where Y'at Magazine" and "Delectable Magazine,"


  • Jerry Thomas — author of one of the earliest cocktail books, How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant's Companion (1862), and The Bar-Tender's Guide, or How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks (1887)
  • David A. Embury — an attorney and author of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948), a classic cocktail book and one of the first to be a serious study of the art
  • Harry Craddock — bartender at the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, London during Prohibition and author of "The Savoy Cocktail Book" published in 1930

Derivative uses

The word "cocktail" is sometimes used figuratively for a mixture of liquids or other substances that are not necessarily fit for consumption. For example, the usage of such a word could be as follows: "120 years of industry have dosed the area's soil with a noxious cocktail of heavy metals and chemical contaminants".
The name for the makeshift incendiary bomb consisting of a bottle and a flammable liquid (usually gasoline) with a flaming rag attached also is known as a "molotov cocktail."


External links

cocktail in Arabic: كوكتيل
cocktail in Bulgarian: Коктейл
cocktail in Catalan: Còctel
cocktail in German: Cocktail
cocktail in Modern Greek (1453-): Κοκτέιλ
cocktail in Spanish: Cóctel
cocktail in Esperanto: Koktelo
cocktail in French: Cocktail
cocktail in Korean: 칵테일
cocktail in Croatian: Koktel
cocktail in Italian: Cocktail
cocktail in Hebrew: קוקטייל
cocktail in Georgian: კოქტეილი
cocktail in Luxembourgish: Cocktail
cocktail in Dutch: Cocktail
cocktail in Japanese: カクテル
cocktail in Norwegian: Cocktail
cocktail in Polish: Koktajl alkoholowy
cocktail in Portuguese: Coquetel
cocktail in Romanian: Cocteil
cocktail in Russian: Коктейль
cocktail in Simple English: Cocktail
cocktail in Slovenian: Koktajl
cocktail in Serbian: Коктел
cocktail in Finnish: Drinkki
cocktail in Swedish: Cocktail
cocktail in Tamil: காக்டெய்ல்கள்
cocktail in Vietnamese: Cocktail
cocktail in Turkish: Kokteyl
cocktail in Ukrainian: Коктейль
cocktail in Chinese: 鸡尾酒

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Cloudcuckooland, Mickey, Mickey Finn, alto-cumulus, alto-stratus, anvil cloud, aperitif, banner cloud, billowy cloud, cap cloud, chaser, cirro-cumulus, cirro-fillum, cirro-nebula, cirro-stratus, cirro-velum, cirrus, cirrus cloud, cirrus haze, cirrus stripe, cloud, cloud band, cloud bank, cloud drift, cloud mass, cloud street, cloudland, cloudling, cloudscape, cottony cloud, cumulo-cirro-stratus, cumulo-cirrus, cumulo-nimbus, cumulo-stratus, cumulus, cumulus cloud, curl cloud, doch-an-dorrach, drink, eye-opener, fleecy cloud, fractocumulus, high fog, highball, knockout drops, mackerel sky, mammatocumulus, mixed drink, mushroom cloud, nightcap, nimbus, nimbus cloud, parting cup, pousse-cafe, punch, rain cloud, scud, snail cloud, squall cloud, stirrup cup, storm cloud, strato-cumulus, stratus, stratus cloud, sundowner, thundercloud, thunderhead, water carrier, wee doch-an-dorrach, woolpack
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