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in a land far far away while taking a shortcut through the meadow a raven haired girl accidentally dropped a bunch of ripe grapes and a carving knife into a patch of wild mushrooms.

The yeast from the mushrooms began to ferment the sweetness of the grapes with much help from the yellow ball of fire in the sky. The next day the girl retraced her steps to locate her lost carving knife and once found realized she dropped her grapes as well as it were. She decided to rest for a spell, partake of some grapes, and watch white puffs dance in the sky. She felt warm and loved. Later, the clan medicine woman noticed a change in the girl’s manner and sought answers. The secret of alcohol is born then used in ceremonies, celebrations, worship, and medicine for many years to come. All live happily ever after.

Of course no one knows when, how, or who first discovered alcohol, but scientists and archeologists tell us that it dates back to 7000 B.C. And of course if you’re a believer of the Lost Continent then it goes back even further.


What we do know is that humans are social beings and social gathering structures have been part of daily life for a long time. The Greeks had symposiums for the intellectual upper class; frescos show men reclining being served food and wine while playing games. And flute girls and various entertaining acts roamed the room.

 

The Romans were less formal due to so much traveling and actually preferred setting up portable tavernae (taverns). Soon permanent tavernae were built on all roads that Roman troops traveled. All roads lead to Rome!
Barmaids served soldiers wine, food, music, and danced. And if a soldier so desired, they were lead to rooms with harlots. Roman troops also carried grapevines with them on every journey to make wine on the road.

 

England began creating their own taverns and since grapes didn’t grow well in their area they made ale. Soon taverns were found in every town with women given the responsibility of making the beer and wine because it was considered an extension of bread making.

 

Taverns, inns, and public drinking houses (pubs), ale-houses, and tap rooms pretty much stayed the same from the 1000’s to the 1700’s. All had fireplaces for warmth, lanterns for light, furniture for sitting, and lots of drink while discussing current events, complaining about the weather, telling stories, and making wagers.

It’s mind boggling to think about the many hats a tavern keeper and his ale-wife had to wear. They had to own land in which to grow carbs to make beer, wine, mead, and cider as well as food for guests. Tend farm animals and a garden. They provided rooms and stables to house traveling guests and their horses. And they also had to be literate enough to keep books, bills, and collect payments due as well as manage the hired help. To multitask, a kitchen dog was placed in a wheel called a turnspit dog and the dog would walk inside the wheel turning the meat as it roasted over the fire. Tavern floors were often made of sand and it was common to have a portcullis gate around the bar area. For wagering, there was the tavern puzzle jug, which was a drinking jug with several holes with only one working hole to drink from. So the tavern keeper was the barkeeper as well as many other keepers. Maybe that’s where the term, He’s a Keeper comes from?



We know what taverns, pubs, and drinking houses looked like in the 1600’s
because Dutch artist Jan Steen painted many daily life scenes on the subject. After viewing his paintings you begin to realize that drinking houses basically had the same things we have today; alcohol, drinking vessels, tables, chairs, music, flirting, fire, food, laughter, games, gambling and even a tavern keeper flairing a longpour from a wine jug into a Martini shaped glass. However, there were a few differences; lots of children, messes, dogs, cats, chicks, and pigs. Hmmmmmm, on second thought, maybe not.



The 1800’s were magical years for bar keeps, barmaids, and bar-tenders in bars, pubs, taverns, saloons, and inns across America. The times brought on civilized behavior with new technological advances. One could order a Sling, Grog, Flip, Sazerac, Manhattan, Rob Roy, Toddy, Tom Collins, Cobbler, Crusta, Smash, Sour, and more. Popular spirits and mixers were, beer, wine, cider, whiskey, apple brandy, applejack, gin, rum, bitters, egg whites, port, absinthe, amaretto, rye, Scotch, Bacardi, mint, vermouth, soda water, brandy, anisette, sherry, syrups, juices, Southern Comfort (known then as Cuff & Buttons), Jack Daniel’s, and Coca-Cola. The position of a bar-tender, even though blue collar, was seen as aristocracy of the working class. In those days you had to be a bartender apprentice for several years before you could be a bar-tender. The first known celebrity bartender was Jerry Thomas. Jerry learned the craft in New Haven, Connecticut then traveled to West to San Francisco. He then traveled back East to New York and opened four saloons. The first one can still be seen at Broadway and Ann Street below the Barnum’s Museum. After that he traveled and worked as a head bartender in St. Louis, San Francisco, Chicago, Charleston, SC, and New Orleans. With a set of solid silver bar tools he set sail for England and France. Thomas published, How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant's Companion in 1862 and then the first bartender guide, The Bar-Tender’s Guide or How To Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks in 1887. He was considered the world's first flair mixologist because he created a cocktail called the Blue Blazer in which he poured a flaming drink back and forth from cup to cup.


By the early 1900’s most saloons were owned by the breweries. Barkeeps made $10-$15 dollars a week with Sunday being the busiest. Drink making was appreciated and bar-tending was turned into an art form.The Waldorf-Astoria in NYC set the standard for quality classic cocktails. Some states had already made the sale of alcohol illegal, but the booze business was going strong. No one had any idea of the enormous changes that were just around the corner. Then on January 16, 1920 at one minute past midnight, Prohibition started. By nationwide law, it was prohibited to manufacture, import, export, or sell alcoholic beverages (exceptions being medical and religious). This created a booming business for bootleggers and their moonshine, but also created a dark underworld of organized crime (Mafia), homemade hooch (bathtub gin) and secret bars called Speakeasies. There were over 100,000 speakeasies in Manhattan alone during prohibition (1920-1933). Bartenders that weren’t afraid to risk a temporary job due to raids were forced to create new cocktails to mask the nasty burn of the bootlegged moonshine, so honey, sugar, juices, egg whites vermouth, and bitters, were commonly found behind bars. Canada, Cuba, and Mexico’s alcohol business benefited from prohibition from whiskey, rum, tequila, and tourists. And NASCAR was concieved from bootleggers building powerful automobile engines to outrun the law through the Appalachian Mountains to run their moonshine.


After prohibition, American bartenders were able to use quality spirits again, but the good bartenders that knew how to make drinks before prohibition were far and few between. Some had died or were too old and couldn’t remember. On December 5th, 1933, at 3:32 pm. (the day of the repeal), it’s been said that only one out of ten bartenders knew how to bartend. Bartenders were searched for everywhere, even imported. It was then that people realized that much training and practice was in order to develop the skill of drink making again in America. Thank goodness England and France’s bartenders could lend a helping hand!

Within a year, Hollywood shined the glamorized cocktail torch towards the silver screen. Cocktails became sophisticated and elegant in the movies. And due to all the tropical locations affluent Americans spent during prohibition, Americans fell in love with the tropics. Donn the Beachcomber left his life of bootlegging in New Orleans and opened the first tiki bar in Hollywood. Donn also created the pu pu platter and his drink, Zombie, was served at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Pat O’Brien stayed in New Orleans, moved his speakeasy, renamed it Pat O’Brien’s, and invented the Hurricane. And the one-legged Trader Vic opened up his restaurant in San Francisco and invented the Mai Tai. In the 1940’s-1950’s tiki bars burst with popularity. Men returning home from World War II (1939-1945) flocked to them because it reminded them of the Polynesian Islands. Smirnoff’s Moscow Mule swept the nation and Rum & Coca-Cola became popular when the Andrew Sisters released a song of the same name in 1941. This was also the time that many gangsters from prohibition laid the foundation for the mega-drinking city we know today as Las Vegas. With the combination of war free times, new home appliance technology, supermarket style liquor stores, the swinging boozing Rat Pack, and James Bond ordering a Smirnoff Vodka Martini shaken not stirred, cocktails flourished through the mid 1960’s.

In 1965, Alan Stillman opened the first American casual dining bar & grill  called T.G.I. Friday’s in New York City. It focused on American cuisine, bar food, and alcoholic beverages. It became the meeting place for professional singles and was an enormous success. Lifetime magazine credited Friday’s with ushering in the Singles Era. The New York City gay community followed suit creating their own singles bars/discos the very same year. Of course, since these were not gay friendly times, their bars were underground. The deejays in the discos played music by unknown black artists and record companies soon saw that they could promote soon-to-be-hits through the deejay’s. Disco was born, however the Vietnam War (1965-1973) created sad, political, drug-induced times slowing down all the fun. But in 1973, after the war ended, T.G.I. Friday’s opened a store in Dallas, TX. and took the city by storm. Within a week, police had to cone & ring the bar & grill with barricades to handle the nightly hordes of singles. Hundreds and hundreds of imitative bar & grills opened, but only four have survived the test of time; Ruby Tuesday’s, 1973; Chili’s, 1975; Bennigan’s, 1976; and Applebee’s, 1980. T.G.I. Friday’s created an industry and was the first to create an extensive range of alcoholic beverages. Kahlua, Bailey’s, pop-a-top beer, the first light beer from Miller, and the Long Island Iced Tea are all big hits. At the same time, Discos were now able to grow as they developed strong record company relations. Bartenders were making spin-offs from the Fru Fru drinks T.G.I Fridays had on their menus and the other copy-cat bar & grills followed suit. Margaritas and Tequila Sunrises were hugely popular because of the Eagles and Jimmy Buffet singing about them in their songs. And in 1979, bartenders everywhere wanted to ring the neck of a guy named Rupert Holmes who released, The Piña Colada Song.

 

In the 1980’s, Discos faded away and the Happy Hour became a common ritual in America. Bars set up buffets of free nibbles to attract more business and to appease the new enforcement of anti-drunk driving laws. Wine of the time was Burgundy, Chablis, and Rosé served in 6 ounce glasses so that they could be filled to the top and was often served in half and full carafes. People adjusted their refrigerator shelves to fit in the convenient wine-in-a-box and their four-packs of Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers. The introduction of Peachtree Schnapps, Midori, and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum exploded possibilities and popular drinks of the time were; Fuzzy Navel, Long Island Iced Tea, Sex on the Beach, Strawberry Daiquiri, Melon Colada, Midori Sour, Sloe Comfortable Screw, Jelly Bean, White Russian, Russian Quaalude, Flaming Dr. Pepper, B-52, Alabama Slammer, Melon Ball, Golden Cadillac, Freddy Fudpucker, and any tropical drink. Blush replaced Rosé and White Zinfandel replaced Blush. The industry began launching many new liqueurs to keep up with America’s sweet tooth--which resulted in the decline of the craft of bartending. The classic cocktail was sometimes ordered by patrons over the age of 40, but still thrived only in obscure hotel bars in Europe and Singapore because quite frankly, their countries didn’t have a demand for pre-packaged, sweetened mixers, and candy flavored liqueurs.


Wine coolers were a big hit in the 1980s. Seagram's hired Bruce Willis to sell their coolers and sales tripled. Bartles & Jaymes used two older men. Here's a look at one of the commercials below.

 

 

In 1986 T.G.I. Fridays hosted the very first flair bartender contest, Bar Olympics in Woodland Hills, CA. This lead to Hollywood making the 1988 film, Cocktail that starred Tom Cruise. It ignited flair bartending worldwide.

 

 

In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the Micro-brews kick started a whole new appreciation of what we drink. It was all about savoring and not guzzling. Following was the wine boom. All of a sudden wine choices were Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Syrah. Spirit sales declined and I’m sure many company round table meetings were held all over the globe to figure out what to do. The result was to follow the current trend and bump up the quality of spirits. Just when bartender’s heads stopped spinning from all the new beers and wines they had to learn, the new elite Single Malt Scotch’s showed its peaty head. One by one, each category of spirit reinvented itself. Bourbon was refined to Single Batch and Single Barrel, vodkas turned boutique, fine tequilas and rums emerged, gins were improved, and flavored infusions never lost steam.

With the new superior line of spirits, some bartenders naturally progressed into modern mixologists hand-making the classics of yesteryear as well as new modern classics. Dale DeGroff made it his mission to resurrect the declining craft of bartending in America. His pioneering efforts have led him to be founding member and President of The Museum of the American Cocktail. Many since have contributed to the rebirth of the cocktail.

In 1998, HBO aired a show called, Sex in the City and exploded the flavored martini craze to a new dimension by christening the Cosmopolitan as its mascot cocktail. All of a sudden the shooters of yesterday were being sipped in martini glasses of today; savored not guzzled.

 

With Hip-Hop and Girls Gone Wild videos igniting a raunchy sexploitation and skankification of women in late 1990’s it was a natural progression for Hollywood to put out a bartender film at the turn of the century calledCoyote Ugly. Half dressed cowgirls work as NYC take-no-crap-bartenders slinging whiskey and dancing on the bar top. Rappers singing about Courvoisier, Bacardi, Gin & Juice, and Coke & Rum skyrockted liquor sales to whole new levels. Cognac was once considered a drink for old men sitting in overstuffed leather chairs smoking cigars, but rap songs completely changed this category for a whole new generation. Its category switch can be compared to gin being the crack cocaine of London in the 1700's and then considered elegant and sophisticated as movie stars drank it in Martini glasses on the silver screen in the mid 1990's. In 2002--after 40 years--James Bond does it again and explodes another cocktail by reviving the classic Mojito. And in 2004, the hit independent film, Sideways, had bartenders tongues turning sideways saying Pinot Noir one hundred times a night.

 

Modern mixologists, cocktail historians, bar chefs, flair bartenders, bar top booty-shaking cowgirls, and just plain ole’ bartenders working local gin joints were part of the new millennium.


There are 570,000 licensed alcohol beverage outlets in the US for on and off premise sales (316,000 for on-premise). That means about 1.5 million bartenders nationwide.

What will happen next in the world of bartending? I think it depends on what products alcohol distributors produce and who spends the most marketing money getting their product in the media.

 

Second Golden Age of the Cocktail

Since 2000, something happened in the Cocktail World that you should be aware of and its the second Golden Age of the Cocktail. The first golden age was in the late 1800s until 1920. Bartending was taken seriously and cocktails were crafted with real ingedients.

Today, the second golden age can best be described by comparing and 4-5 star chef crafting an incredible meal with a classic foundation then using the freshest ingredients and imagination.

The man credited for this shift in the cocktail world is Dale DeGroff. His website is KingCocktail.com. Starting in about 2000 and all the way to today this rebirth has exploded. Craft and classic bars are no longer limited to big cities. They are trinkling into the the smaller cities worldwide. Dale started the Museum of the American Cocktail and also helped start the world's largest cocktail festival held every July in New Orleans called Tales of the Cocktail. Since, there are cocktail weeks popping up all over the world. There is now The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, San Francisco Cocktail Week, Portland Cocktail Week, London Cocktail Week, and so many more.

With so many websites and information, it's hard to know how to get started on the right path, but the links I've provided will get you started.

Make sure you become facebook friends with as many as these people as possible and that will lead to more connections.

Join Gary Regans' Bartender Database.

Join Tobin Ellis' Social Mixology.

Join Simon Diffords' newsletter.

Join Liquor.com.

When you are checking out drink recipes sites then there are two that you should use as guidelines. Ted Haighs' Cocktail Database, and David Wondrichs' Cocktail Database.

A new recipe database that is more modern is Kindred Cocktails.

Well, this should be enough to get you started in the right direction.

Here is a fun graph of Presidential drugs of choice.

 

Mead History 9000 year old beer recipe
The Mead Maker's Page Ancient Egyptian Alcohol
Drinkboy's Cocktail Origins Wine jug relics

 

Miss Charming's Alcohol Timeline

I've spent many many years researching the following information. I promise it will give you an inspired perspective on the world of drink that has given strength to the weak, courage to the faint hearted, refreshment to the weary, and raised the hopes of the low spirited.

 

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