5 Cocktails
and the Stories Behind Them

5 Cocktails and the Stories Behind Them

Circumstances, people and legends that led to the creation of some of the most popular cocktails of all time


artini, Negroni, Cosmo: for anyone who’s into cocktails and the mixology scene, these names are so familiar that it is as if they had always existed.

 Yet most of the drinks that are still hot today were born around the late nineteenth century - not such a remote time - and some even more recently. However, it rarely occurs to us to ask ourselves why they are called like that and who invented them - which is why we decided to retrace the stories that led to the birth of five of the most famous cocktails of all time. Here is what we found out.

Dry Martini: American or Italian?

The famous gin and dry vermouth aperitif served with an olive, much loved by the Americans and featured in so many memorable scenes from popular movies and TV series, has a rather debated origin. According to some, its name derives from Martinez, a 19th century cocktail, yet others argue that it was actually invented by an Italian bartender working at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York, who specially created it for John D. Rockefeller. Finally, a less elaborate version of the story suggests its name might simply refer to Martini&Rossi, a famous Italian brand of alcoholic beverages founded in the nineteenth century.

Manhattan, it all started with a party

Whiskey, sweet red vermouth and angostura bitters. The origin of the world’s most famous red aperitif (actually, given the ingredients, it would also be perfect as a digestive) must also be traced back to 19th century New York. According to a fascinating theory, it was created in 1874 for a reception at the Manhattan Club (hence the name) thrown by Jennie Churchill, the soon-to-be mother of Winston Churchill, in honor of Samuel J. Tilden, the new governor of the State of New York.

Cosmopolitan, sleek & feminine

After the planetary success of Sex & The City, this popular cocktail is often referred to as fictional fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite drink. But the fame of the ‘Cosmo’ – a mix of vodka, cointreau, lime and cranberry juice - actually dates back to the 1970s, when it became popular in the cocktail bars of Miami and New York City, although its origins are probably to be found further back, around the 1930s. Because of its fruity flavor and its red-rosy color, it is generally considered a ladies’ drink.

Negroni, a revisitation of the Americano 

It was the year 1920 in Florence when Count Camillo Negroni, a regular at Caffè Casoni, asked his bartender to add a dash of gin to his Americano to replace the usual dash of soda. What he probably could not imagine was that this idea would give birth to the most famous Italian cocktail. Ever since then, red vermouth, Campari bitter and gin have been the basic ingredients of this robust drink - also available in its lighter version, the Sbagliato, with dry sparkling wine replacing the gin.

Daiquiri, from Cuba to the world

A favorite of Ernest Hemingway’s, who sipped it in large quantities at the counter of the El Floridita bar in Havana, this mix of white rum, lime juice, and cane sugar syrup is the object of many legends related to its origin. The most imaginative one involves a US marine who supposedly landed in Playa Daiquiri so thirsty and craving for a drink that he invented a cocktail right there on the spot. A slightly more credible story is that of an Italian engineer working in Cuba who, faced with the challenge of offering a drink to an unexpected guest, improvised a recipe with whatever he had at home, accidentally creating a legendary mixed drink. What we know for sure, though, is that Daiquiri became officially popular around 1914 thanks to the skilled Catalan bartender of the Floridita, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert.
Ernest Hemingway

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