Ah, the most refreshingly delicious day of the year! World Cocktail Day!
World Cocktail Day occurs annually on the day the Balance and Columbian Repository, a Hudson, New York newspaper, printed a wonderful exchange in which the editors defined the word cocktail. During the previous week, the loser of a political race had created a witty account of their gains and losses during the race. One of the losses listed was “25 do. cock-tail.” A confused reader wrote in asking what a cock-tail was. Here is the letter to the editor and the editor’s response:
To the Editor of the Balance.
I observe in your paper of the 6th instant, in the account of a democratic candidate for a seat in the legislature, marked under the head of Loss, 25 do. cock-tail. Will you be so obliging as to inform me what is meant by this species of refreshment? Though a stranger to you, I believe, from your general character, you will not suppose this request to be impertinent.
I have heard of a forum, of phlegm-cutter and fog driver, of wetting the whistle, of moistening the clay, of a fillip, a spur in the head, quenching a spark in the throat, of flip & c, but never in my life, though have lived a good many years, did I hear of cock tail before. Is it peculiar to a part of this country? Or is it a late invention? Is the name expressive of the effect which the drink has on a particular part of the body? Or does it signify that the democrats who take the potion are turned topsycurvy, and have their heads where their tails should be? I should think the latter to be the real solution; but am unwilling to determine finally until I receive all the information in my power.
At the beginning of the revolution, a physician publicly recommended the moss which grew on a tree as a substitute for tea. He found on experiment, that it had more of a stimulating quality then he approved; and therefore, he afterward as publicly denounced it. Whatever cock tail is, it may be properly administered only at certain times and to certain constitutions. A few years ago, when the democrats were bawling for Jefferson and Clinton, one of the polls was held in the city of New York at a place where ice cream was sold. Their temperament then was remarkably adust and bilious. Something was necessary to cool them. Now when they are sunk into rigidity, it might be equally necessary, by cock-tail to warm and rouse them.
I hope you will construe nothing that I have said as disrespectful. I read your paper with great pleasure and wish it the most extensive circulation. Whether you answer my inquiry or not, I shall still remain,
[As I make it a point, never to publish anything (under my editorial head) but which I can explain, I shall not hesitate to gratify the curiosity of my inquisitive correspondent: Cock tail, then 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 any thing else.
In an Old-Fashioned glass place a sugar cube.
Saturate the sugar cube with 2 or 3 dashes of bitters and a splash of water.
Crush the cube with a muddler.
Rotate the glass so the sugar and bitters line the glass.
Add ice and 2.5 oz rye or bourbon.
Squeeze a lemon twist over it, decorate with your favorite stirring rod and serve!