Posted By: guest cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 04:16 PM
thinking about raising a glass to a friend's birthday today (two, actually*) got me to wondering about the origin of "cocktail". anyone know how this compound came to represent things alkyholic[hic]?

*that's two friends celebrating birthdays, not two cocktails.

Posted By: of troy Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 04:21 PM
serious? No- i heard all sorts of theories, includeing one about a mix drink being garnished with a 'cocks tail' and so lending it name to all sorts of mixed drinks..
most definately an american thing.. that caught on big during prohibition, when poor quality alcohol was mixed with fruit juices and other flavors to make it more palatible.

Posted By: guest Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 04:27 PM
are you saying that cocktail is an american thing? do folks in the UK and the top of the world not even recognize the term?

i hadn't really considered the fact that a cocktail is usually a *mixed drink. it's certainly used for beer or wine as well, though, at least in my experience. but back to the mixing thing ~ is a cock's tail a mix of colors? i suppose a peacock's is.

Posted By: musick Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 04:37 PM

Posted By: wow Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 04:44 PM
a cocktail is usually a *mixed drink

Nah. A cocktail is served in a stemmed glass i.e. martini, Manhatten, Gibson etc.
Now OED says it's a drink with alcohol combined with bitters ! ?? !
A "mixed drink" is served in a regular tumbler-type glass with alcohol or several alcohol{s}, combined - sometimes with fruit juice(s).
Or so I have always figured.

Posted By: wow Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 04:49 PM
Gee whiz, musick! Ya just had to go and be intelligent and search it, din'cha.

Posted By: musick Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 05:02 PM
A "mixed drink" is served in a regular tumbler-type glass...

... unless you want a "tall" one and then it comes in a *frosted Collins glass.

Posted By: AnnaStrophic Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 05:12 PM
My father used to call drinks "highballs." Maybe that's another name for the martinis, gimlets, etc wow referred to. And what the dickens is a highball anyway?

Posted By: nancyk Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 09:03 PM
In my frame of reference, ie, what my parents served, a highball was whiskey and some type of (usually sweet) soda, eg, 7-Up, ginger ale. Never martinis, gimlets, etc. Now THOSE were cocktails.

Posted By: Zed Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/25/03 11:54 PM
A highball and I don't think I want to know the origin of the term glass is a short straight sided wide glass, the kind movie characters put two fingers of whiskey in. I know that at one time cocktails were considered harmful to the health as opposed to less fancy, unmixed drinks like sherry, so they probably did have a mixture of alcohols in them.

Posted By: Bean Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/26/03 02:00 PM
I always thought, like Zed (maybe this is a Canadian intepretation, perhaps it's how things are listed on menus?), that the highball glasses were the short heavy-bottomed glasses, until I got a book about mixing drinks, which indicates a highball glass is the tall sort (also called a Collins glass, which someone referred to above). The short, heavy-bottomed glasses are called rocks glasses. I still get the names mixed up because I called the short ones "highballs" for so long.

I like my morning orange juice in a rocks glass - my all-time favourite OJ glass was a rocks glass. Alas, like all great glasses, it broke, and now I use a less-satisfying rocks glass.

Posted By: Capfka Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/26/03 06:00 PM
Cocktail is a well-known term worldwide, and not just in Engliah language countries. Highball is understood, but little used. Its etymology is not clear to me, however. The Concise Oxford believes that it comes from cock + tail, i.e. cocks (stands) up. Earlier senses were "docked horse" or "upstart". FWIW.

Posted By: AnnaStrophic Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/26/03 06:16 PM
That's right, Capfka. In Brazilian Potuguese it's rendered as coquetel.

Posted By: Zed Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/26/03 07:39 PM
In Brazilian Potuguese it's rendered as coquetel.
That's because after two you turn into a coquette.

Posted By: maverick Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/26/03 09:44 PM
and after a couple more, there's no telling... ;)

Posted By: dxb Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/27/03 04:59 PM
.....not if your a gentleman anyway.. ;)

Posted By: of troy Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/27/03 07:11 PM
Maverick is always a gentleman!
I have never shared a bed with a finer person!

Posted By: maverick Re: cocktail, anyone? - 08/27/03 10:28 PM
hey, babe, you said I shouldn't tell anyone about that...

So now we're back to that word cocktale...

Posted By: Bobyoungbalt Re: cocktail, anyone? - 09/03/03 01:52 AM
I have no doubt there are regional variants on what, exactly, constitutes a 'mixed drink' as distinguished from a 'highball' or a 'cocktail'. My father in law, who worked for 40 years in a distillery, would have defined them as follows (and this is the usage in this part of the country):

'Mixed drink' and 'highball' are the same thing -- a hard alcoholic beverage, usually whisky of some kind, mixed with some carbonated beverage (usually), possibly plain water. Such as: blended whiskey (or rye) and ginger ale (the classic highball); scotch and soda, scotch and water, bourbon and branch, bourbon and ginger ale (classier than rye or rotgut), gin & tonic, rum & Coke, whiskey & Coke (ugh), to name the most popular. Vodka & OJ (screwdriver) might fit in this category.

A cocktail is a combination of liquor of some sort and (usually) another liquor (or 2 or more) or wine and (maybe) a smallish amount of some juice, soda, etc; e.g., the Martini (when made with vermouth, not just a glass of gin), the Gibson, the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, etc.

A highball (or 'mixed drink') is properly served with ice in a highball glass, which is a tall cylindrical glass like an ordinary water glass, but holding about 6 oz. usually. A cocktail is served, either on the rocks or straight up in a smaller glass, which may be specific to the drink, like a Martini glass, which used to be unique to that drink but is now being used for other drinks. The other cocktails are usually served in what used to be called an Old Fashioned Glass, a squat tumbler holding maybe 4 oz.

The glass size demonstrates the difference between a cocktail and a highball -- the cocktail has more liquor proportionally; the highball is usually a pony (oz. and a half) and 5 or 6 oz. of mixer -- much less potent. You can drink a lot more highballs than cocktails in an evening.

Posted By: Faldage Re: cocktail, anyone? - 09/03/03 11:13 AM
Welcome home, Bob. We've missed ya. And thanks for shining the flashlight of information on this thread.

Posted By: Jackie Re: cocktail, anyone? - 09/03/03 01:44 PM
And what the dickens is a highball anyway?
highball - type of alcoholic drink, 1898, probably from ball "drink of whiskey," high because it is served in a tall glass.

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