What is it about cocktails we love so much?

Is it that the mere mention of the word is synonymous with a party vibe, signaling that the moment has arrived for us to start letting our hair down? After all, this particular drink has inspired both a designated hour and a style of party devoted exclusively to its enjoyment. And of course there’s the cocktail dress too!

Qualities of the Cocktail

Cocktails embody fun-that much is clear from the saucily named Porn Star Martini and Sex on the Beach. But they also represent glamour and sophistication given their association with Old Hollywood. In The Big Sleep, Lauren Bacall’s character orders a Scotch Mist; in The Seven year Itch, Marilyn Monroe’s neighbour drinks two whiskey sours for breakfast and in State of The Union, Katharine Hepburn orders a Sazerac, considered to be the original cocktail creation.

Naturally we couldn’t fail to mention Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr No whose iconic tipple of medium dry vodka martini—shaken, not stirred (to make it extra cold), increased in popularity around the world as result of the film.

Evolution of the cocktail

So clearly, cocktails have an enduring appeal. Perhaps one of the reasons we continue to enjoy them so enthusiastically is that they can be easily adapted to suit our individual tastes.

They have certainly evolved since the early days when just that one cocktail recipe featured on the drinks menu and it consisted of some kind of spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Nowadays though, these drinks are an art form.

In fact, the art of making cocktails has been likened to cooking a sophisticated meal with its mouth watering mix of ingredients. Food and Beverage Writer, Alexandra Friedman believes our palates have become more sophisticated, which means that when it comes to liquid refreshments, we demand quality-driven cocktails of the same calibre.

She insists that this wonderful drink is more than a melange of liquors in a cup-the secret is in the chemistry!


Movers and Shakers Through the Decades

The World’s First Cocktail

Apothecary Owner Antoine Peychaud is credited with inventing the world’s first cocktail (the one favoured by Katharine Hepburn in her film role),  which he named after the drink’s main ingredient: Sazerac French brandy. Its other ingredients include sugar cubes, orange bitters, aromatic bitters, ice cubes, absinthe and lemon zest to garnish.

An Absolute Classic

Blending the smooth with the sweet, the Espresso Martini has been voted the UK’s favourite cocktail. And we wholeheartedly approve of that result!

A Very Modern Cocktail

From its ’Miscellany of Inventions’ menu at The Shard’s Shangri-La Hotel Gong Bar comes the Chopper 52, created to honour the invention of the helicopter. The drink combines tomato water with Erba Cedrina (lemon verbena), salty citrus and vodka infused with rosemary.

So all in all, whether we opt for a traditional favourite or a more contemporary option, what we want when we order a cocktail is an alchemic combination of elements in a glass for a delicious drinking experience!

No-one could sum it up better than Friedman who says: “When it comes to cocktails, it’s all about spirit. And this goes far beyond the liquor itself. It’s us, it’s the ingredients, it’s the room, it’s the maker, it’s the glass, it’s the journey, it’s life!”