Photo by Jonpaul Balak of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry dressed up as a zombie.
“Mai Tai” is Tahitian for “out of this world,” which translates to “very good.” One-legged from childhood, Victor Jules Bergeron was inspired by Don the Beachcomber’s tiki restaurant and bar in Hollywood, so in 1934 he borrowed money from his aunt to open his own Polynesian-themed restaurant and bar in Oakland, California, called Hinky Dinks (6500 San Pablo Avenue). In 1939, he renamed it Trader Vic’s and opened franchises in Seattle, Hawaii, and San Francisco. He went on to open thirty-one more franchises in America and around the world. Today there are eighteen franchise locations with two of them in America: Atlanta, Georgia, and the flagship Emeryville, California.
On a summer night in 1944, Bergeron made up a drink for his visiting Tahitian friends, Ham and Carrie Guild, and after taking one sip, Carrie said, “Mai Tai—Roa Ae!” so Vic named it Mai Tai. Most bars don’t carry a couple of key ingredients for the Mai Tai (orgeat almond syrup and orange Curaçao) and will substitute amaretto and triple sec. Also, the number-one thing to know about a Mai Tai is that it is not red. It should be yellowish with a dark rum floater and garnished with a mint sprig and lime. The Mai Tai was all the rage in the late 1950s and early 1960s because it made its way into the 1961 Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii. The best places to order one: Latitude 29 in New Orleans, Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, and Otto’s Shrunken Head in New York City.
Tequila Sunrise—The Trident Restaurant & Bar
They should’ve called it “Being in the Right Place at the Right Time Sunrise.” Bartender Bobby “Robert” Lozoff invented the Tequila Sunrise at age twenty-two in 1969 while working for the Trident in Sausalito, California (ten miles from San Francisco)—his first year of bartending. At the time, the Trident was a popular hang for rock ’n’ roll celebs. Regulars included Janis Joplin and Carlos Santana, and the late comedian/actor Robin Williams was a busboy. The Trident was known for very attractive waitresses, and some say it was ahead of its time by offering a juice bar and espresso. Here is a blog dedicated to the Trident from the years 1966-1980. I've been communicating with Lozoff since 2016.
On a Monday night in June 1972—the Trident was normally closed on Mondays—Lozoff and two waitresses were called in to work a Rolling Stones American Tour kickoff party of around thirty-five people. Mick Jagger walked up to the bar and ordered a Margarita from Lozoff, who then asked him if he had ever tried a Tequila Sunrise. Jagger said “no.” So, Lozoff made one for Jagger, and he loved it! Lozoff says that the thing Jagger liked the best is that it only needed three ingredients—tequila, orange juice, and grenadine—so the band could make them while on tour. In 2010, Keith Richards published a book titled Life and in chapter nine, sentence one reads, “The ’72 tour was known by other names—the Cocaine and Tequila Sunrise tour.”
Lozoff’s Sunrise did not start off with three ingredients. He first made it with tequila, orange juice, commercial sweet and sour mix, soda water, and a crème de cassis floater served in a chimney glass (tall glass). Lozoff says that eventually grenadine was used in place of the cassis. In fact, due to the Trident being extremely high volume, sometime between 1969 and 1972 the recipe shortened altogether. Lozoff was known as the fastest bartender in San Francisco. It was his bartender “thing” pumping out multiple volumes of drinks to guests.
With the help of McKesson Liquor Distributing Corporation in San Francisco and the manager of the Trident, Jose Cuervo was contacted about printing the drink recipe on the back of the bottle. Cuervo learned that the Trident was selling more of their tequila than any bar in America, and Lozoff’s recipe was put on the bottle. And as if things couldn’t get any better, in April of 1973, the Eagles released their song “Tequila Sunrise,” which blew that sunrise out of the water. In 1974, it made it into Mr. Boston’s Bartender’s Guide.
What happens when a bartender creates a famous drink? Well, in Lozoff’s case, nothing. In November of 2016 he said, “Unfortunately I was too young to capitalize on the deal and made no money. As a matter of fact, I received no recognition until writer Jeff Berkhart wrote his National Geographic article about me in 2012.”
Lozoff moved to Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, in 1976 and opened up a Trident-like bar and restaurant called Blue Max at 730 Front Street. He decorated it with a big stuffed owl and black-and-white photos of Hawaiian World War II aircraft—and of course served his Tequila Sunrise. Blue Max attracted the same musical giants: Elton John, Stevie Nicks, and too many more to mention. Today, the building is a Chicago pizzeria. Here’s a fun fact: Lozoff doesn’t drink alcohol and never did. After retiring from the restaurant/bar business in 1989, he became a Mac technician. He says he spent his money on planes, boats, and Rolexes. Today, he still lives in Hawaii and teaches computer classes.
To be fair, bartender Gene Sulit created a cocktail called Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in the 1930s. The ingredients included tequila, lime juice, crème de cassis, and soda water; no Rolling Stones party was ever hosted there.
The Zombie was invented by Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, aka Donn Beach-Comber/Don the Beachcomber/Donn Beach (1907–1989). Beach is credited for opening the first tiki Polynesian-themed bar, Don’s Beachcomber, just half a block off Hollywood Boulevard in 1933 (1722 North McCadden Place). He invented the Zombie here in 1934. Four years later he moved across the street and renamed it Don the Beachcomber (1727 North McCadden Place). It closed in 1985 and condominiums have been built in both locations. Gantt also served the Zombie at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
The challenge of being the best at something is that people want to steal from you, so bartenders from other tiki bars would watch what bottles Gantt’s bartenders were picking up, counting the pours, writing down everything they could to steal recipes. Even bartenders from Trader Vic’s (375 miles away) would make the trek down to Hollywood. So, Don decided to cover his mixer bottles, then labeled them #1, #2, #3, and so on. The only issue with this was that over time no one knew the true ingredients of the Zombie anymore.
Jeff “Beachbum” Berry to the rescue! This “Bum” is responsible for reviving the modern tiki culture starting in 1998 with his book Grog Log. He began a Zombie ingredient quest in 1994 and it lasted until 2005. You can check out the story at his website beachbumberry.com. In a nutshell, it took eleven adventurous years to crack the Zombie code. Berry code cracking was written up in many publications. Hands down, the best place to drink a Zombie is at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 located in the quaint Bienville Hotel in the French Quarter, New Orleans.
Harry Yee invented the Blue Hawaii in 1957. In the 1950s, Hawaii was on track to be a US state, which it became in 1959, so the islands began a phase of exotic paradise construction to attract tourists. Large tropical getaways were built on every island and the largest of these was the Hawaiian Village on the island of O’ahu.
Hawaii became a state in the same year the Hawaiian Eye TV show’s exterior shots were filmed at the Hawaiian Village. Hawaiian Eye gave Americans a glimpse of what Hawaii was like—too bad the show wasn’t in color. The Hawaiian Village is where thirty-seven-year-old bartender Harry Yee invented the drink Blue Hawaii in 1957. Yee was born on September 26, 1918 and started his bartending career at the age of thirty-two. He worked at the Hawaiian Village for thirty years and in 1957 was asked by Bols to help promote their new product, Bols Blue Curaçao—and the Blue Hawaii was born. To be clear, Yee invented the Blue Hawaii, not Blue Hawaiian. The Blue Hawaiian became an American knockoff once Bols Blue Curaçao made it to nationwide bars and has no real recipe or inventor. At the time there weren’t any popular “Hawaii” drinks. Tourists were just ordering Mai Tais, Zombies, Planter’s Punches, Piña Coladas, and Grasshoppers. When defining a drink from Hawaii, Yee said, “A Hawaiian drink to me is something they don't get back home.”
When asked about the Vanda orchid garnish in the Blue Hawaii, Yee has been known to say, “We used to garnish with a sugarcane stick and people would chew on the stick and then put it in the ashtray. When the ashes and cane stuck together it made a real mess, so I put the Vanda orchids in the drink to make the ashtrays easier to clean.” When I spoke to a 99-year-old Yee over the phone in July of 2018, he told me that it mostly bothered the cocktail servers having to clean up so many ashtrays.
Yee is also credited with using the first paper parasols in cocktails. He invented other tropical cocktails, including the Tropical Itch, Hawaiian Eye, Guava Lada, Hot Buttered Okolehao, Scratch Me Lani, Catamaran, Naughty Hula, Hukilau, Diamond Head, Village Sunset, and Wahine's Delight. His Tropical Itch is garnished with a bamboo Chinese back scratcher, and the Hawaiian Eye became famous in America between 1959 and 1963 because Hawaiian Eye featured the drink.
Today, the Hilton Hawaiian Village still sells Yee’s Blue Hawaii but sadly, they do not use his exact recipe or garnish anymore. On their menu, they sell another drink called Blue Ocean that is closer to the real recipe, except that it uses Jamaican rum in place of Puerto Rican rum. It’s been said that Yee would hold up every Blue Hawaii he made to make sure it was the color of the Pacific Ocean. If that is true, then he must’ve only worked day shifts.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village organized a 100th birthday celebration for Yee on September 20, 2018. Here are some 110th birthday articles:
Without a doubt, New Orleans wins for the most popular cocktails of any city in the world.
Brandy Crusta—Jewel of the South
Italian-born Joseph Santini (1817–1874) created the Brandy Crusta, which made it into the first known American cocktail recipe book How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion: The Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas (Thomas or an editor misspells his name as Santina). It is believed that Thomas visited Santini at the City Exchange Restaurant and Bar or at Santini’s bar, Jewel of the South while visiting New Orleans in the 1850s. The Brandy Crusta is famous because it is considered the gateway cocktail— using fresh citrus juice—that led to the creation of the Sidecar and even the Lemon Drop Martini. Maybe it was a way for Santini to add a squeeze of Italian heritage in a cocktail since Italy is known for their lemons.
Santini was born in Trieste, Italy, and the 1840 Census shows Santini living with another young male in an area of Gentilly called Milneburgh in the New Orleans area. Milneburgh is on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. While most of America did not experience the railroad until the late 1880s, the Pontchartrain railroad became the second working railroad in 1831. It carried passengers and goods to New Orleans and back on a five-mile track and was used mostly as a weekend getaway destination, depending on which way you were traveling. In 1840, Milneburgh had two hotels, two barrooms, a grocery store, and a bakery. It’s possible that Santini worked in one of these barrooms.
In 1841, Santini was given a head barkeeper position by a fellow Italian friend at the Splendid Bar in the St. Charles Hotel. The St. Charles at this time was the most lavish hotel in all of New Orleans. From the outside, it looked exactly like the nation’s White House. In the month of April 1842, several ads were run in the Times-Picayune announcing Santini opening the bar at the Washington Hotel in Lake Pontchartrain. The ad says, “Opening of the Washington Hotel, Lake Pontchartrain. Mr. Joseph Santini has the honor to inform the public, that he will open the above Hotel for the reception of visitors, on Sunday, the 3d inst. The Bar will be furnished with the choicest Liquors. The Restaurant will be under the direction of Mr. Mayer.”
In February 1855, at age thirty-seven, Santini opened his elegant—and often referred to as “pretentious”—bar, the Jewel of the South, on the corner of St. Charles and Gravier, one block from the French Quarter and across the street from the St. Charles Hotel where Santini used to work (the hotel had just been rebuilt due to an 1851 fire). This bar would later be home to Charles Ramos (Ramos Gin Fizz) and the Sazerac Bar when they moved out of the French Quarter after Prohibition.
Santini owned four businesses on Gravier between St. Charles and Carondolet: a less pretentious bar called the Parlor with the attached Corona Cigar Shop, and another cigar shop called Intimidad (“privacy” in Spanish), which was attached to the Jewel. George B. Ittmann was Santini’s head barman. In newspaper articles, Ittmann had been described as a “scientific mixologist who is to the Jewel what Hamlet is to Shakespeare.” Other New Orleans businesses open at this time in history included Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Old Absinthe House, Sazerac Coffee House, Antoine’s, Tujague’s, Café du Monde, the Court of Two Sisters, and the first artificial ice factory.
On Dec 29, 1868, Santini announced in the paper that he was retiring from the Jewel and handed it over to head bartender George B. Ittmann. In 1874, while in France with his daughter Marietta, who was pursuing her vocal studies abroad, Santini died at fifty-seven. The day is not exact, but it is agreed that it was either August 9, 11, or 12. Santini’s body did not make it to New Orleans for his funeral until October 18. He is buried at St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 at 3421 Esplanade. Mrs. Margaretha Santini (age forty-eight) assumed ownership of the saloons. She eventually retired to Biloxi, Mississippi, and lived to be 103 years old.
New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian reminded me of a webpage I had bookmarked that led me to Santini's great-great-granddaughter Diana. It took many phone calls finding the right Diana, but I found her. Diana shared photos and eleven pages of Santini’s liquor inventory that was recorded after his death. Some items of interest include Boker’s bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters, Newfoundland bitters, Dr. J. Hostetter’s bitters, Guaco bitters, Sazerac Cognac, orgeat syrup, orange-flower water, Jamaican rum, Holland gin, arrack, Old Tom gin, Scotch, Irish whiskey, Bourbon, rye whiskey, green and yellow Chartreuse, Bénédictine, kirschwasser, absinthe (spelled absynthe), cassis, Noilly Prat vermouth, many fruit brandies, and almost 1,000 bottles of wine including Madeira, sherry and port.
In 1948, David A. Embury published a Brandy Crusta recipe in his book Fine Art of Mixing Drinks with the addition of maraschino liqueur.
Santini was very involved in the arts and aiding in children’s education. Articles show that he hosted events to raise money for widows and orphaned children. At the New Orleans Locquet Young Ladies Institute on Camp Street, he provided “Santini Medals” to the female students who excelled in French and elocution (the skill of clear and expressive speech). The Institute gave him a set of gold cufflinks engraved with an open book on one side and the word “education” on the other. Wouldn't it be cool to locate these? Santini was also a Mason of the Maconnique Lodge. Honestly, comparing this a 2018 climate sounds like he could have been a paedophile. We will never know.
In 2018, New Orleans bartenders Chris Hannah and Nick Dietrich opened a new Jewel of the South at 1026 St. Louis Street.
Tujague’s opened in 1856 and is currently the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans. They have never shown any documentation, but claim to be the inventor of the Grasshopper. The story goes that in 1919 the second owner, Philip Guichet, took second place in a New York City cocktail recipe contest and that’s it. The drink is green and creamy and tastes like melted chocolate mint ice cream. It rose in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and then again between 2007 and 2015 due to the popular TV show Mad Men. If you visit Tujague’s for a Grasshopper today, you’ll discover that somewhere through the years, bartenders took it upon themselves to alter the recipe by adding a floater of brandy.
I found the same recipe from a book in 1918 and am currently looking for it in old hard drives.
Hurricane—As of 2017 unknown, but made popular at Pat O’Brien’s
If you ask people all over the world to name a bar in New Orleans, they will most likely answer “Pat O’Brien’s.” And if you ask them to name a New Orleans drink they will say a Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's. The truth is that we will never know who really invented the Hurricane.
On November 6, 1894, Benson Harrison O’Brien, aka Pat O’Brien (1894–1983), was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. O’Brien was a first-generation American whose father left North Tipperary County, Ireland, during the potato famine. O’Brien grew up in Birmingham, Alabama with three sisters. He served in the Army's Rainbow Division in World War I (1914-1918) and brought home a Purple Heart. O'Brien moved to Houston, married, had a daughter, sold tobacco then stocks until the stock market crashed in 1929. He divorced, moved to Los Angeles then to New Orleans where he married again and fathered two sons and a daughter.
O’Brien stood six-foot-four, wore white suits, preferred petite five-foot-tall women, and became one of the best bootleggers in Louisiana and Mississippi. With his outgoing, gregarious personality, it did not take him long to know the bar owners and seek investors to open his own speakeasy.
O’Brien opened a speakeasy and named it Mr. O’Brien’s Club Tipperary (nicknamed Tips) on the corner of Royal and St. Peter streets. It's been said that the password was “Storm’s Brewin”, however it has been learned that this was made up by a New York newspaperman. By December 3, 1933, O’Brien moved into the French Quarter at 638 St. Peter and opened Pat O’Brien’s liquor store two days before the official repeal day—probably because he already knew many cops. Today this location is a small tourist center. Friends wanted O’Brien to open another bar, so three years later he moved to a larger space one block away at 718 St. Peter—the current location. Four years later Charlie Cantrell ran the business part of the bar while O'Brien miggled with the customers.
It is believed that Pat O’Brien, at age forty-eight, invented the Hurricane in 1942, and it’s said that it took him two weeks of testing to get it right. He served it in a twenty-two-ounce hurricane lamp–shaped glass (now called a Hurricane glass), and locals were upset that the drink cost sixty cents when other drinks at the time cost only fifteen cents. O’Brien had to announce in the local paper that it cost that much because it contained four ounces of rum. The story goes that the sole reason the Hurricane was invented was that O’Brien wanted whiskey. At the time, whiskey was in short supply, so distributors told him that if he would purchase many cases of rum, they would sell him one case of whiskey. Other stories say if he purchased one case of rum, he could get one bottle of whiskey, but in any case, his Hurricane was born.
In the 1940s, Cantrell and O'Brien hired George Oechsner as bar manager. His grandson, George "Sonny" Oechsner III helped with bar maintenance and cleaning learning the business as he worked. Sonny is who transformed the lawn into a brick courtyard, adding nighttime entertainment with dueling pianos, and launched the Hurricane into the nation’s cocktail consciousness. In 2012, his daughter Shelly became the President and owner.
My friend Scott Touchton was the GM of Pat O’Brien’s from 2000-2014 told me that the original 1942 recipe was 4 oz rum, lime juice, orange juice, and passionfruit syrup served in a 22 oz Hurricane glass. However, another cocktail friend, Philip Greene (a distant relative of Antoine Peychaud) discovered a 1941 Ronrico rum recipe book that lists a “Hurricane Punch” made with 4 oz Ronrico rum, lime juice, lemon juice, and passionfruit syrup served in a 24 oz special blue glass. The instructions say to “Waring mix” half of the drink (Waring is a brand of blender that came out in the 1930s) then pour the blended mixture over a half glass of Ronrico ice. I’m not sure what “Ronrico ice” is, but the real question is “Did Pat O’Brien know about the Hurricane Punch recipe?” No one will ever know.
Sadly, today the popular red drink at Pat O'Brien's is not made with fresh-squeezed juices like it was back then, but made with a
Kool Aid–type mixture and then bottled at Pat O’Brien’s local bottling plant, in which they make huge batches, transport it to the bar, and then store it in a tank that has several lines running to all the bars. Special guns were created for all the bars so that a bartender can fill up three Hurricanes at a time in three seconds.
Indoors, they serve the drink in a twenty-two-ounce Hurricane glass and charge you for the glass. If you don’t want the glass, you have to take it to a bartender to get three dollars back. If you choose to keep the souvenir glass, they box up a clean glass and put it into a logo bag with some extra souvenirs. If you want a Hurricane to go, then it is served in a sixteen-ounce white logo plastic cup.
There have been variations on the recipe, but one thing that is for sure is it was always a red-colored drink, which should come from red passion fruit syrup. Local newspaper articles on public drunkenness talked about the sidewalks being red from Hurricane vomit and spills in the 1940s and 1950s. At that time, Pat O’Brien’s was so busy that the city had to employ police officers to monitor the outside of the building.
If you want to enjoy a fresh Hurricane the way it tasted in 1942, walk one block to the Bourbon Orleans Hotel Bar.
Ramos Gin Fizz-The Imperial Cabinet
Henry Charles “Carl” Ramos (1856–1928) invented the Ramos Gin Fizz in 1888 and served it until 1919 when he was forced to close for Prohibition. As a farewell gift to New Orleans, he published his recipe in the local paper.
Ramos was a first-born, first-generation American from German parents. He was born in Indiana and made his way to New Orleans around the age of fourteen. He married at age twenty-three and then by age thirty-one, Ramos and his brother took ownership of Pat Moran’s Imperial Cabinet in 1888. It was located on the corner of Carondelet and Gravier, which is two blocks outside of the French Quarter from Bourbon Street. Sadly, the building is no longer there today. No one knows what inspired Ramos to create a cocktail, but he did and he named it “Ramos’s One and Only One Gin Fizz.” A Gin Fizz at the time contained four ingredients: gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water (the same ingredients in a Tom Collins). Ramos doubled the ingredients by adding lime juice, cream, egg white, and orange-flower water. Drink historian David Wondrich writes in his book Imbibe! that the Kansas City Star anointed the Imperial Cabinet “the most famous gin fizz in the world” in 1900. Wondrich also discovered that Ramos went through 5,000 eggs a week, owned America’s largest hennery, and during 1900s Mardi Gras, employed six bartenders and one black man as a “shaker boy.”
In 1907, Ramos sold the Imperial Cabinet and moved one block, taking over the Stag Saloon at 712 Gravier. This location was directly across the street of the entrance to the grandest hotel in the city at the time, the St. Charles Hotel and where Joseph Santini’s the Jewel of the South was located previously. St. Charles is the main street for Mardi Gras parades, and during Mardi Gras 1915, it’s believed that Ramos hired a chain of thirty-two “shaker boys” who would shake and pass down the shaker tins of fizzes in a long line.
Other New Orleans businesses open at this time in history include Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Old Absinthe House, Sazerac Coffee House, Antoine’s, Tujague’s, Café du Monde, the Court of Two Sisters, Commander’s Palace, La Louisiane, Jackson Brewing, Café Sbisa, Galatoire’s, Arnaud’s, Acme Oyster House, Central Grocery, Broussard’s, and America’s first nightclub at the Gruenwald (now the Roosevelt Hotel), the Cave. Other New Orleans creations around were: muffaletta sandwich, beignets, Oysters Rockefeller, Barq’s soda, Dixie beer, and Tabasco.
Ramos died in 1928, but Governor Huey “Kingfish” P. Long resurrected Ramos’s Gin Fizz after Prohibition and made it known that it was his favorite cocktail. Once he took a political trip to New York and stayed at the New Yorker Hotel. After taking one sip of the New Yorker’s Fizz, he called the Roosevelt in New Orleans with orders “to send his best gin fizzer to New York by plane so he could teach these New York sophisticates how to make it correctly. The story goes that the next day Sam Guarino, head bartender at the Sazerac Bar, arrived in New York and spent three hours schooling his Northern counterparts on the proper way to make a Ramos Gin Fizz. Drink historian and today’s most famous New Orleans bartender, Chris McMillian, share a YouTube video titled “Huey teaches us,” which shows film footage of Long standing behind the Sazerac bar testing out a Ramos Gin Fizz.
To date, there are five bars that have been famous for executing the Ramos Gin Fizz and two can be visited today.
The Imperial Cabinet
Ramos’s first New Orleans bar, located on the corner of Carondelet and Gravier.
The Stag Saloon
Ramos’s second New Orleans bar, located on the corner of St. Charles and Gravier.
The Cadillac Bar
After French native New Orleans waiter Achilles Mehault “Mayo” Bessan lost his job due to Prohibition, he decided to take himself and his nineteen-year-old bride across the border where alcohol still flowed. They settled in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, across the Rio Grande from Laredo and Texas. In 1926, Bessen bought the Caballo Blanco Bar and renamed it the Cadillac Bar. In 1929 he moved the bar and reopened with muy grande signs advertising his favorite New Orleans cocktail, “The Famous Ramos Gin Fizz.” Bessan served both New Orleans cuisine and Mexican cuisine. Sadly, the Cadillac Bar is no longer around today, but the good thing is that you can order a Ramos Gin Fizz in America.
The Sazerac Bar | The Roosevelt Hotel
They trademarked the name Ramos Gin Fizz after Prohibition and have been known for making Ramos Gin Fizzes since.
Bourbon O Bar | The Bourbon Orleans Hotel
In 2013, as bar director, I learned three things when researching Henry Charles “Carl” Ramos.
Ramos went into the paint business during Prohibition.
The local hardware store, three blocks from the bar—Mary’s Ace Hardware on Rampart Street—was where Ramos lived.
The front room into his house is where the paint section is today.
I entertained the idea of shaking Ramos Gin Fizzes with a paint can shaker, but this proved to be too expensive (and messy), so in 2014 I asked William Grant & Sons to buy the bar a $1,000 Asian bubble tea shaker that would shake the Hendrick’s Gin Ramos Gin Fizz for six minutes.
Sazerac-as of 2018 unknown, but in New Orleans
On June 23, 2008, in a 62–33 vote, the Louisiana House of Representatives proclaimed the Sazerac New Orleans’s official cocktail. Actually, it is the first city in the world to have an official cocktail.
Most believe that the Sazerac would not be what it is today if it was not for Antoine Amedee Peychaud (1803–1883). Peychaud (pay-SHOWED) was French, but it’s not known when he came to New Orleans because he was one of the many who fled a chaotic evacuation during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804).
For more than 100 years it has been believed that Peychaud was the inventor of the Sazerac, however new research says differently. But the believed Peychaud story that has been told for a long time is below.
What we do know about Peychaud is that in 1832 at age nineteen he partnered with druggist A. Duconge at 123 Royal Street—the street numbers changed in 1896, so the address translates to 437 Royal between St. Louis and Conti today. By 1834, Peychaud bought the apothecary and it is believed that he began producing his father’s family bitters recipe. According to the New Orleans Bee, Peychaud’s apothecary became a place to hang after Concorde Blue Mason’s Lodge meetings and, using his bitters, Peychaud served brandy toddies. Peychaud was said to measure the toddies using a double-ended eggcup/jigger, then called a coquetier (ko-k-tay), which the word “cocktail” was once thought to originate from. It’s also believed that the Sazerac got its name from a brandy of the same name, however some cocktail historians disagree.
In 1857, Peychaud marketed his bitters in the New Orleans bee newspaper and by 1858, he had two major bitters competitors, Baker’s and Hostetter’s, so he aggressively marketed Peychaud’s Bitters. The 1860 Census shows that Peychaud had ten people living in his household, so it is assumed that he was hard at work selling bitters to support everyone. By 1867, Peychaud opened his third apothecary in the French Quarter.
By 1869 when he was sixty-six, Peychaud’s children were grown, and it is assumed he probably wanted to slow down, so he sold his apothecaries and made bitters for Thomas Handy, who owned the popular Sazerac Coffee House (bar). The Sazerac Coffee House (the best coffeehouse in its time) was the number-one place where the Sazerac was served for fifty solid years until 1920 (Prohibition). Today, the spot where the Sazerac Coffee House was located is at 124 Royal. It was a Holiday Inn from 1984 to 2015 and is now a Wyndham Hotel. In addition, in 1869, Peychaud’s Bitters received the Diploma of Honor at the Grand Exhibition of Altona, Germany.
In 1872, Thomas Handy became the importer of Sazerac brandy, extended the bar to be 125 feet long, and employed eighteen bartenders. One year later, Peychaud sold the Peychaud’s Bitters recipe to Handy. It is said that the recipe for brandy was replaced by rye whiskey and a dash of absinthe was added. This was probably because of the issues with Europe’s grapevines being destroyed and absinthe becoming trendy. It is also believed that the Sazerac was always made with rye whiskey from the beginning.
It should also be noted that there is another man—who many believe—created the rye whiskey Sazerac Cocktail by the name of William “Billy” Wilkinson. Wilkinson was a bartender at the Sazerac Coffeehouse.
In 2016, I was given Joseph Santini’s 1874 inventory list by his great-great-granddaughter and it shows that Santini owned fifteen bottles of Sazerac Cognac. Was the Sazerac made with this or with rye whiskey? Cocktail historians are still researching.
In 1908, the Sazerac recipe made it into the first known cocktail book in William T. "Cocktail Bill" Boothby's The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them. In the 1930s, The Roosevelt Hotel bought the Sazerac recipe and named their hotel bar the Sazerac Bar.
In 2012, I located Antoine Peychaud’s grave. He is buried with his sister Lasthenie Peychaud in St Louis Cemetery No. 2 between Conti and St. Louis streets in New Orleans.
Vieux Carré–Hotel Monteleone
The Vieux Carré has been listed on the hotel's lobby menu since 1934. Chris Mcmillian, the most famous bartender in New Orleans showed me a copy of the menu. Vieux Carré translates to “Old Square” / “French Quarter.” This cocktail was invented by head bartender Walter Bergeron (1889–1947). It’s is a riff on the Sazerac, which had been popular in New Orleans since the 1800s. The Vieux Carré ingredients are rye whiskey, Cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s Bitters, Angostura bitters, and a lemon twist. It has become a staple cocktail in New Orleans and the world.
As far as I know, I'm the first to deep dive into Walter Bergeron's history. I learned he was born in Thibodaux, Louisiana in February 1889 to Louis Klebert (1866-1928) and Florence Prioux Bergeron (her father was French). At the birth, both of his parents were only thirteen years old. They married at month five of the pregnancy. As you might have guessed, this young marriage did not survive, and they eventually went their separate ways. Walter went with his father who married Amanda Benoit (1863–1941). This union gave Walter two brothers, George David Bergeron (1894–1969) and Phillip C. (1904–1973). Walter's birth mother remarried a man named John Lankford, and they had a daughter named Daisy (1913-1996).
In 2015, while researching on Ancestry.com, I was able to communicate with a lady named Fairlee. Her husband's Aunt Punkin was Walter's niece. She still lives in Thibodaux and this is where I would be able to obtain a photo. She said that Aunt Punkin said, " Walter was a very funny comical man." Aunt Punkin remembered visiting them in Thibodaux, and they sometimes went to New Orleans to visit him. She said Walter liked his beer and he and his brother George would sit at the kitchen table drinking and laughing. She added, "Walter's daughter, Shirley was exceptionally pretty and looked just like the movie actress Ginger Rogers.
With a 5th grade education, Walter moved to New Orleans in 1907 and in 1910, married Jeanne Cougot (born in France). Eight months later they had a baby girl named Hazel. The 1910 US Census shows that Walter lived with his wife, her parents, six siblings, and a family niece. The household age ranged from 8-51. It said that Walter worked as a machinist and all the other males in the household worked as butchers. The females worked at home or as chambermaids. Eleven people were living in a shotgun house at 411 Maurice Avenue in Arabi, LA (one on the way) with no indoor plumbing or air-conditioning. At the time, this part of the 9th Ward was swampy, without city sewage or proper drainage. I don’t even know if they had electricity at that time; I'm still researching. Baby Hazel was born on August 27. Two years, nine months and ten days later, baby Hazel died in the same house.
The couple welcomed another baby girl in 1915 named Jeanne, and by 1920, the US Census shows they rented a house one block away at 6109 Bienvenue. As of 2018, it is an empty lot for sale at $22K, but you can view the houses around it. The Census says that Walter worked as a bartender in a hotel. The 1920s brought two more baby girls, Elenore (1922) and Shirley (1925). In 1928, Walter's father died at age 62, which was also the same year Henry Charles "Carl" Ramos died.
The 1930 US Census says Walter was employed as a store manager of a cigar store (remember this was prohibition, which could have been a good cover for a speakeasy, or not). They moved a few blocks away to 5511 Royal Street. The rent was $20 a month. In June of 1930, the couple had their last child and only son, Klebert (cluh-BARE). Four years later, in 1934, his wife died of consumption (now called tuberculosis) in April leaving him a widower with four children aged eighteen, twelve, nine, and three. In 2013, I located his only living child, Klebert, who was living in Slidell, LA since Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home. He said he remembers never seeing his mother because she was bedridden for three years until her death. He said that he and his sisters were taken down the block to live with their Aunt Nana and they never saw their mother again. I guess that Walter thought the disease was contagious. I can only imagine how hard it was for Walter taking care of his wife, supporting his children, and watching his bedridden wife die for three years. He lived in Arabi, so the streetcar was probably his mode of transportation into the French Quarter.
1934 was a year of change for Walter; his wife died, he became a widower of four children, it was the first year after Prohibition, and the first year the Vieux Carré cocktail was seen on the Hotel Monteleone's cocktail menu. In 1937, author Stanley Clisby Arthur credited Walter in the creation of the Vieux Carré in his book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em. He writes that Walter created it in honor to the famed Vieux Carré, that part of New Orleans where the antique shops and the iron lace balconies give sightseers a glimpse into the romance of another day. UPDATE: Drink historians have learned that a lot of the information in this book is incorrect, so right now we are not 100% sure that Walter created this cocktail. But we do know for sure that it was on a 1934 Hotel Monteleone cocktail menu. Click on the book to read the 1st edition for free. Esteemed cocktail historian David Wondrich researched author Stanley Clisby Arthur in this article here. You'll see why historians today question his writings.
The 1940 US Census says Bergeron worked as a bartender at a hotel forty-eight hours a week with a yearly income of $1,580 (almost $27,000 in 2017). He lived at 5403 Dauphine Street with three of his children (his oldest daughter married). In 1941, his biological mother died. On a cool, rainy morning on Thursday, February 13, 1947—five days before Mardi Gras and one day before the Mardi Gras weekend celebrations, Walter died of a heart attack at age fifty-seven in a grocery store at 8 am. Walter was born in February and died in February. At his death, he lived at 6006 Dauphine Street. He is buried at St. Vincent De Paul Cemetery.
In my 2013 phone conversation with Walter's only son, eighty-three-year-old Klebert Joseph "Bro" Bergeron (1930-2014), he spoke fondly of visiting his father at the Hotel Monteleone's lobby Bar in 1940 at the age of ten. He said he remembered it well because there was a boy his age playing with a shiny red toy fire truck. He said the truck was left unattended at one point, so he walked over to touch it and then told his dad that he wanted one. Walter told him to get away from the truck because it belonged to the hotel owner’s son. Klebert talked for thirty minutes about how his dad always worked in the daytime so he could be home at night. Bro said his father woke up at 6 AM and returned home at 7 PM. While visiting his father at the bar, he remembered watching men order drinks, his father mixing drinks and the smell of smoke. He also said he remembered when his father left the hotel bar and went to work at the Sazerac Bar on the corner of St. Charles and Gravier. I asked about a photo, and to his knowledge, he did not have one but could look through some things. He described his father as being short and stocky. Klebert died in 2014.
Klebert was a very proud artist and designer. He talked about several bars around New Orleans that he designed including a nightclub on the top floor of the Hotel Monteleone, of which I lost the name or I can't read my handwriting. He said it was where the rooftop pool is today. Bro said every time he walked through the lobby to the elevator he thought of his father. His business was Designs Unlimited Inc., a commercial interior design business specializing in restaurants and nightclubs. He mentioned some places that I believe are no longer around such as Dream Room, Safari Room, The Brass Rail, Pete Fountain's, Georgie Porgie's, Opus 111, The Godfather, Spinnaker, and Chateau Lounge. One year later I saw a lot of these places mentioned in his obituary.
I have located Klebert Bergeron II and Klebert Bergeron III on Facebook in hopes of gaining a photo of Walter, but sadly the grandson and great-grandson of Walter Bergeron have declined to speak with me. I will keep trying, but I will also do my best to make a trip to Thibodaux to talk with Aunt Punkin and hopefully obtain a photo of Walter before she passes.
Other New Orleans Cocktails
Invented at the Old Absinthe House.
Café Brûlot Diabolique (Devilishly Burned Coffee)
Invented in the 1890s by the founder’s son, Jules Alciatore, at Antoine’s, the oldest restaurant in New Orleans (1840). It’s a show-stopping, flaming concoction of coffee, Cognac, and spices served in special cups.
Invented and registered in 1986 by Chef Paul Prudhomme at K-Paul’s (416 Chartres) by infusing jalapeños with vodka. He called it “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s original K-Paul’s Cajun Martini ‘Totally Hot.’” One year later, Prudhomme produced a premixed bottled Cajun Martini, and on the bottle, it said “made with Taaka Vodka, vermouth, and cayenne peppers.”
Cocktail à la Louisiane
Invented in the 1880s in the restaurant of the same name. You can visit the bar that took over the space; 21st Amendment, at 725 Iberville Street.
Frozen Irish Coffee
Invented in 1991 by Jim Monaghan Sr. at Molly’s on the Market.I'm told that the Irish whiskey used is Jameson.
Invented and trademarked by Earl Bernhardt and Pam Fortner in 1984
at their original Tropical Isle (600 Bourbon). It was created for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition and today is the number-one to-go drink seen on Bourbon Street. The recipe is trademarked.
Invented at Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which is the oldest bar in New Orleans. The cocktail’s subtitle is “The High Brow of All Low Brow Drinks.
2 oz gin, 1/4 oz dry vermouth, and 1/4 ounce absinthe. Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac was the ninth mayor of New Orleans and its last French mayor from 1820-1828. He was responsible for the beautification of the French Quarter by adding cobblestone streets and gas lamps. The residents loved him so much that they made a drink in his honor. It was sold up until 1986 and then died off. Recently, it has made an appearance at many fresh craft bars in New Orleans.
2 oz brandy or Cognac, 2 oz himbeer essig syrup (made with raspberries and apple cider), and 5 oz soda water over ice in a highball glass.
Adopted New Orleans Cocktails
Many people think these cocktails were invented in New Orleans—but the city only took
them under its wings: Absinthe Drip, Bloody Mary, Fleur de Lis, French 75, Milk Punch,
Mint Julep, Pimm’s Cup, Scarlett O’Hara, and Tom and Jerry.
Victor Bergeron photos from findagrave.com.
How to make a Mai Tai from Beachbum Berry's website.
Courtesy of Jose Cuervo. Inventor of the Tequila Sunrise, Bobby “Robert” Lozoff, holding a Tequila Sunrise in Hawaii in 2016 at age sixty-nine.
Lozoff tending bar at the Trident and with his dog in the early 1970s.
Blue Max. All these photos are from Lozoff.
Photos from Don the Beachcomber Facebook page.
Photo from Facebook.
Harry Yee at his 100th birthday celebration at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in September 2018. The F&B manager emailed it to me.
Harry Yee at age ninety-eight in 2016 holding a Blue Hawaii from the Hilton Hawaiian Village where he created it in 1957. Photo by Dennis Oda
Home of the Blue Hawaii cocktail, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii, Waikiki Beach. Photo by
Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock
Joseph Santini courtesy of Diana Lehman. As far as I
know, I am the first to locate images of Joseph Santini.
1869 Paris photo courtesy of Diana Lehman. Gabriel Santini, Joseph Santini, and New Orleans child violinist prodigy Mark Kaiser. Santini's son on the left is Gabriel who is Diana's great grandfather.
Corner of St. Charles and Gravier streets sometime between 1852 to 1894. The white building is the St. Charles hotel and the corner is where Santini's Jewel of the South was located. For cocktail buffs, this is also the corner where Ramos' Imperial Cabinet was located (Ramos Gin Fizz) and after Prohibition where the Sazerac Bar moved to. Photo from OldNewOrleans.com.
2016 Diana Lehman great-great-grandaughter of Joseph Santini visiting me at the Bourbon O Bar.
I made her first Brandy Crusta.
By Chad Kainz (Flickr: Tujague's) [CC BY 2.0 ( via Wikimedia Commons
Charlie Cantrell and Pat O'Brien from patobriens.com.
By Matt Boulton (Flickr: Pat O'Brien's) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ( via Wikimedia Commons
By NOLAskip [CC BY-SA 3.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
By MusikAnimal [CC BY-SA 4.0 ( from Wikimedia Commons
Photo from diffordsguide.com
Today the Hotel Monteleone lobby bar is called the Carousel Bar. In the 1950s, this space was called The Swan Bar. In 1968, a was built. Photo by Chris.j.Cook [GFDL CC-BY-SA-3.0 CC BY 3.0 from Wikimedia Commons
2006 Carousel Bar photo By Chris.j.cook [CC BY 3.0 from Wikimedia Commons
6006 Dauphine Street where Walter was living when he died on February 13, 1947.
Walter's half brother George Bergeron from Fairlee at ancestry.com
Walter's only son Klebert "Bro" on the left and bottom. The other two are Walter's grandson and great grandson. Photos from dignitymemorial.com.
Walter's only son is top third from the left. I can only assume that all the older men of the family. Since no image of Walter has been found then this is the closest for now. Photo from dignitymemorial.com.
Frozen Irish Coffee at
Long Island Iced Tea - Oak Beach Inn
Long Island bartender Robert “Rosebud” Butt claims to have invented this drink. On his website liicetea.com he wrote, “The world-famous Long Island Iced Tea was first invented in 1972 by me, Robert Butt, while I was tending bar at the infamous Oak Beach Inn. Nicknamed ‘Rosebud’ by OBI owner Bob Matherson, I participated in a Cocktail creating a contest. Triple Sec had to be included, and the bottles started flying. My concoction was an immediate hit and quickly became the house drink at the OBI.”
By the mid-1970s, every bar on Long Island was serving up this innocent-looking cocktail, and by the 1980s it was known the world over. Though it looks like the iced tea your mom serves on a summer day, it is actually a combination of five different alcohols, with a splash of Coke.
The PBS series Inventors documented Butt on February 22, 2013, on film. Butt makes the Long Island Iced Tea in his bright white open-cabinet kitchen with seven ingredients lined up on his counter: Smirnoff vodka, Seagram’s gin, Bacardi rum, Jose Cuervo gold tequila, Dekuyper triple sec, commercial sweet and sour, and Coca-Cola. He pours a shot of each spirit (without a jigger). A shot could be 1 ounce, or 1.25 ounces, or even 1.5 ounces, depending on the establishment. So, this drink—according to Butt—could contain between 5 and 7.5 ounces of booze! Today, almost all bartenders pour half shots to make the total alcohol count 2.5 ounces. Many establishments have guidelines of how many ounces of alcohol can be in one drink. However, if you’re home in your kitchen like Butt was in the video, make the darn thing any way you want, because you’ll only be drinking one.
I have tried to locate Robert, but no luck as of yet.
The earliest known recipes for the Manhattan appear in three 1884 cocktail books: George Winters’ How To Mix Drinks, J.W. Gibson, Scientific Bar-Keeping, and O.H. Byron’s The Modern Bartender’s Guide.
From what we know, the Manhattan was the signature cocktail at the Manhattan Club in New York in the 1870s. Back then it was made with equal parts rye whiskey and sweet vermouth with a dash (or two) of orange bitters, but who invented it is unclear.
There are two different stories. The broken record story is that it was created at the Manhattan Club for a dinner party being thrown by Lady Randolph Churchill to celebrate Samuel Tilden’s election as governor in 1874. However, cocktail researchers discovered that the Lady was in England pregnant with Winston Churchill at this time.
The second story comes from an article written in the 1923 Valentine’s Manual of Old New York (Volume 7) by a sixty-one-year-old bartender named William F. Mulhall, who had been mixing drinks in New York City for thirty years. He talks about New York bartenders, bars, fights, bouncers, prices, popular cocktails, and not-so-popular cocktails in detail for eleven pages. Mulhall starts the article talking about his first day of work at the Hoffman House at the corner of Twenty-Fifth and Broadway in September 1882. Eight pages in, he mentions the Manhattan:
“The Manhattan cocktail was invented by a man named Black, who kept a place ten doors below Houston Street on Broadway in the sixties—probably the most famous mixed drink in the world in its time. The cocktail made America famous and there were many varieties of them—in fact, the variety was infinite—I remember at the Hoffman in the old days, a gentleman would come in and sit down to a table with his party and the waiter would come over and order his particular formula for the party. We had many private formulas for mixed drinks in the Hoffman and the bartenders had to learn them by memory, too, so that the order could be served quickly.”
In 1882, the first known mention of a Manhattan cocktail was in the Sunday Morning Herald from Olean, New York: “It is but a short time ago that a mixture of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters came into vogue.”
David Wondrich is—hands down—America’s number-one cocktail historian. He calls the Mint Julep the “first true American drink.” His most current Mint Julep findings come from Virginia in 1770. However, Wondrich feels that highly recognized New York City bartender Orsamus Willard, a.k.a. Willard, is responsible for making the iced version popular. Wondrich also says it started out as a rum-based cocktail, then whiskey, then brandy, then Bourbon. Since 1938, the Kentucky Derby has been promoting the Mint Julep as their official cocktail, much like Wimbledon promotes the Pimm’s Cup.
As far as we know, in 1803 the Mint Julep was first seen in print in a London publication, Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States, by John Davis. And in 1837, novelist Captain Frederick Marryat popularized the Mint Julep through his descriptions of American Fourth of July celebrations by writing, “I must descant a little upon the Mint Julep, as it is, with the thermometer at 100? One of the most delightful and insinuating potations that was ever invented, and may be drunk with equal satisfaction when the thermometer is as low as 70? As the ice melts, you drink. I once overheard two ladies in the room next to me, and one of them said, “Well, if I have a weakness for any one thing, it is for a ‘Mint Julep!’”—a very amiable weakness, and proving her good sense and taste. They are, in fact, like the American ladies, irresistible.”
Cosmopolitan - Minnesota, California, Miami, and New York
I spent many years researching the Cosmopolitan, so it has its own story on my Cosmopolitan Cocktail History Page .
Moscow Mule - California and New York
The Moscow Mule was Smirnoff vodka’s first cocktail introduced to America. As for the history, well, there are a lot of moving parts in the story and most are without documented proof.
There’s a 1947 Polaroid camera bar-hopping picture-taking road trip (but no photos); a 1941 Russian immigrant named Sophie with 2,000 solid copper mugs (but no vintage mugs); a 1930s spirit company salesman named John from Connecticut selling Smirnoff vodka (this is true); a Cock ’n Bull Los Angeles celebrity bar and restaurant owner named Jack, with too much ginger beer in stock, who says he invented it in New York City; and Jack’s head bartender, Wes, who said he was cleaning out the Los Angeles basement, found too much vodka and ginger beer in stock, and he invented it—whew!
Magazine ads in the 1950s and 1960s advertised the Moscow Mule to bring the drink to semi-success, but in 1962 when James Bond drank Smirnoff Vodka Martinis in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, well, that’s when Smirnoff vodka and the shaken-not-stirred Martini spread like wildfire around the world. The Moscow Mule had a resurrection around 2010, and variations of the drink could be found on almost cocktail menu by 2016.
More American Cocktails
Other cocktails / mixed drinks invented in America with little to no history include the Alabama Slammer, Appletini, Bushwhacker, Cape Cod, Chocolate Martini, Colorado Bulldog, Flaming Dr. Pepper, Fuzzy Navel, Harvey Wallbanger, Jack Rose, Lynchburg Lemonade, Martini, Melon Ball, Mudslide, Pink Lady, Sex on the Beach, Tom and Jerry, and Washington Apple.
Around The World
The Caipirinha (kye-purr-REEN-yuh) is Brazil’s national drink. It’s made with cachaça (kuh-SHA-suh), which is Brazilian rum. There are hundreds of brands of cachaça in Brazil. There are several stories about its history, but a recently found 1856 Paraty document (near Rio de Janeiro) says, “Because [of the concern with cholera and water], by necessity we began mixing medium aguardiente with water, sugar and limes, because it was prohibited to drink straight water.” Aguardiente is rum.
Black Russian—Hotel Metropole
It is believed that Hotel Metropole bartender Gustave Tops created the Black Russian in 1949 for American socialite Perle Mesta (U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg). The Hotel Metropole, still in business today, is one of Brussels’s most important historical landmarks.
Dark ’n Stormy
The Dark ’n Stormy is the official cocktail of Bermuda, and the first thing you should know is that it’s registered, which means you cannot legally make a Dark ’n Stormy with any rum other than Gosling’s Black Seal rum. The company owns the trademark on the name, clothing, kits containing rum and ginger beer, bar services, and a premixed version of the drink.
There are other trademarked cocktails in the world, including New Orleans’s Hand Grenade and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Martini. In 1936, the New York Supreme Court ruled that an authentic “Bacardi Cocktail” had to be made with Bacardi Rum.
The Dark ’n Stormy was created in the early 1900s and obtained an American trademark in 1991. Its origins come from the highly successful ginger beer factory that was run as a subsidiary to the Royal Naval Officers’ Club in Bermuda. They soon discovered that a splash of the local black rum (Gosling’s) was just what the ginger beer was missing. The name is said to have originated when an old salt (a teller of sea stories) observed that the drink was the “color of a cloud only a fool or dead man would sail under,” which was probably followed by “Barman, I’ll have another Dark ’n Stormy.”
Englishman William Gosling and his son James set sail in 1806 aboard the Mercury carrying £10,000 of wine and spirits (that’s almost $1 million in 2018 currency). They stopped over in Bermuda—not meaning to make Bermuda their destination—and decided to stay and set up shop. Soon they sent for more family members.
In 1824, Gosling brothers James and Ambrose opened a wine and spirits shop in Bermuda, and in 1857, they renamed it Gosling Brothers. It’s assumed that one day they looked around at their stock and thought, “Hey! We spend all this time selling other people’s alcohol, why don’t we make our own to sell?” However, there was one problem—there was not enough land on Bermuda to grow crops. Therefore, they imported oak barrels of rum distillate from the Caribbean. James and Ambrose did a lot of experimenting with blending for a long time, and soon the distinctive black rum was ready to be sold.
They decided to sell it directly from the barrel, so customers could come into the shop and fill up their bottles with the “Old Rum.” After World War I, James and Ambrose recycled champagne bottles from the British Officers’ Mess, and used black sealing wax to seal the corks. Bars began to stock the rum and patrons would ask for the “black seal” rum. Later, a play on words and images gave birth to the little, barrel-juggling “Black Seal” bottle label.
Today, the company’s face is Malcolm Gosling, who is the gregarious great-great-great-grandson of Ambrose Gosling. Malcolm is out spreading the Gosling’s Rum gospel around the world. Maybe in his travels he will run into the other world-popular Gosling, who goes by the name of Ryan, and could put Gosling’s Rum sales through the roof.
Cuba is famous for these three cocktails, and thanks to esteemed cocktail historians Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown, we have the most updated information on these cocktails from their 2012 book Cuban Cocktails.
“Cuba Libre” translates to “Free Cuba,” and the cocktail is simply made with rum, cola, and a squeeze of lime. It is often said that Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders invented it in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, but Coca-Cola did not make it to Cuba until 1902. What we do know is that a drink from 1872 named Cuba Libre was mentioned in the New York Herald; however, its ingredients consisted of honey and hot water. The next known publication of the Cuba Libre is in the 1928 book When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba, by Basil Woon, who wrote that it was available at the American Club in Havana. In 1935, the New Yorker published the exact recipe but with the name Carioca Cooler (Carioca was a brand of rum). The drink makes an appearance in many other publications up to 1979 that vary in glass types and sizes.
Today’s Daiquiri consists of three ingredients: rum, lime juice, and sugar. The most common story of its invention comes from a man named Cox, and it is said to have been named after the Cuban beach town Daiquiri.
It is pretty much agreed upon that the Daiquiri was an invention of sailors as an elixir to prevent and cure scurvy (a disease resulting from a lack of Vitamin C). For many years, it was confused with the Bacardi Cocktail, but a 1699 memoir by Captain William Dampier titled A New Voyage Round the World said: “Ships coming from some of the Caribbean Islands are always well stored with Rum, Sugar, and Lime-Juice to make Punch, to hearten their Men when they are at work getting and bringing aboard the Salt; and they commonly provide the more, in hopes to meet with Privateers, who resort hither in the aforesaid Months, purposely to keep a Christmas, as they call it, being sure to meet with liquor enough to be merry with, and are very liberal to those that treat them.”
There are many versions of rum and sugar mixed with lemon juice starting in 1734, but the first time a recipe mentions lime juice is in the 1914 book Drinks by Jacques Straub, which called it a Daiquiri Cocktail. Author Hugo R. Ensslin called it a Cuban Cocktail in 1916, and a 1934 Havana Club compliment card called it a Havana Club Special.
Restaurant critic G. Selmer Fougner (1885–1941) published the recipe under the name “Daiquiri” in 1935 and, one year later, Sloppy Joe’s Cocktails Manual did the same. From then on it pretty much stayed the same with the exception of flavored spin-offs. The Frozen Daiquiri was first published in the 1976 and 1979 Bacardi Party Book.
Much like the Cosmopolitan being a marriage between a Cape Cod and a Kamikaze made with lemon vodka, the Mojito is a marriage of a Daiquiri and a Rum Mint Julep. Today, the Mojito is made with five ingredients: rum, lime, sugar, mint, and fizzy water.
In a 1981 book by Fernando G. Campoamor, the author talks about a drink called the “Draque” (Spanish for dragon). This 1586 mixture of aguardiente de caña (rum), sugar, and Cuban hierbabuena (mint) appears to be named after Sir Francis Drake and given to him—and his sailors—as medicinal rations. These ingredient combinations appear in print again in 1753 and 1838.
The year 1910 was the first time that the word “mojito” made it into a cocktail recipe. It was at the La Concha Bar at the Hotel-Balneario in Havana, Cuba, when a bar attendant named Rogelio created a cocktail with rum, lemon juice, sugar, Angostura bitters, and soda water. As you probably noticed, if you leave out the bitters, then all that is missing is the mint and lime.
The drink went through many variations, but finally in 1935 Bar la Florida in Havana served a drink called Mojito Criollio that contained four ingredients of the Mojito we know today. The only difference is that it called for lemon instead of lime. Finally, in Havana’s Sloppy Joe’s 1936 Cocktails Manual, we see a cocktail named Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, and soda water. Due to the Cuban Revolution in 1959, no one could visit Cuba. Sloppy Joe’s closed in 1965 and reopened in 2013.
Pimm’sCup—Pimm’s Oyster Bar
James Pimm (1798–1866) invented the Pimm’s Cup in 1823. Not only did Pimm create the cocktail, he invented the gin-based spirit used in the cocktail as well. Pimm was a farmer’s son from Newnham, Kent, but was educated in Scotland. During his early twenties, he moved to London and sold fish. At age twenty-five he opened his first oyster bar across from Buckingham Palace. His Pimm’s No. 1 tonic contains a secret mixture of herbs and liqueurs that was created to aid digestion.
Pimm began large-scale production in 1851 to keep up with sales to other bars, and then in 1859 it was sold commercially. Pimm opened many more oyster bars, and then at age sixty-seven—one year before he died—he sold his businesses and the rights to his name.
Many New Orleans visitors think the Pimm’s Cup was invented at the French Quarter restaurant and bar Napoleon House. The Napoleon House first became a restaurant in the 1940s, and it’s not known how they became famous for the Pimm’s Cup. One might guess that an Englishman had something to do with it. Today, the Pimm’s Cup is the official drink of Wimbledon.
Mimosa-Hotel Ritz Paris
Part-Austrian and part-Jewish bartender Frank Meier is credited with inventing the Mimosa in 1923 at the Hotel Ritz Paris. His first name for the drink was Champagne Orange. Meier started working at the hotel in 1921 as the first head bartender in Café Parisian. Today, the bar is named Bar Hemingway. Meier published an art deco cocktail book in 1936 titled The Artistry of Mixing Drinks. The book contains only his favorite cocktail recipes.
You should know that England also invented a cocktail of the same ingredients (different portions) and named it the Buck’s Fizz.
The Margarita has three ingredients: tequila, triple sec (orange liqueur), and lime juice. We’ll probably never know the true story of who invented Mexico’s national drink—the Margarita. Truthfully, it’s like playing a round of the TV game show of To Tell the Truth.
Carlos “Danny” Herrera claimed he invented it in 1938 at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria (five miles south of Tijuana, Mexico) for Ziegfeld dancer Marjorie King.
A bartender named Willie created it for Marguerite Hemery at the Dos Republicos in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Enrique Gutierrez said he created it in Tijuana, Mexico, for movie actor Rita Hayworth, whose birth name was Margarita Cansino.
Bartender Don Carlos Orozco said he invented it at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, in 1941 for a woman named Margarita.
Francisco “Pancho” Morales said he invented it on July 4, 1942, at Tommy’s Place Bar near the El Paso border when a woman asked for a Magnolia.
An Acapulco bar owner named Margaret Sames said she invented it.
Bartender and owner of Harry’s Bar, Giuseppe Cipriani (1900–1980), invented the Bellini in 1931 in Venice, Italy. Cipriani was born in Verona, Italy. Before becoming a bartender, Cipriani wanted to travel around and learn as much as he could. He worked in a watch factory, a pastry kitchen, and as a waiter in some very elegant upper-class hotels in France, Belgium, and Italy. The owner of the Hotel Europa told him that he should be a barman because he had the right tone with clients and knew many languages. This planted a seed within Cipriani and thus started his dream of opening an elegant bar where the customers did not have to walk through an intimidating grand entrance and lobby to get to the bar.
Enter Harry Pickering. Pickering was a young, wealthy American student who was traveling with his aunt so she could help Pickering stop drinking so much. They ended up getting in a fight, and the aunt left him with very little funds. Cipriani decided to loan Pickering 10,000 lira. Time passed and one day Pickering reappeared and gave Cipriani back his money with an interest payment of 30,000 lira (totaling around $200,000 in 2017 dollars). So, Cipriani opened Harry’s Bar on May 13, 1931.
Kings, presidents, and celebrities throughout the years have visited Harry’s Bar, and the Bellini is still served today.
From 1916 to 2014 the Pisco Sour was believed to be invented by Victor Vaughen “Gringo” Morris (1873– 1929), a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, at Morris Bar, his American Bar in Lima, Peru. However, in 2014, Peruvian writer Raúl Rivera Escobar scanned a 1903 Lima pamphlet published by S. E. Ledesma and then uploaded it online. It showed a cocktail by the name “Cocktail” containing all the ingredients of a Pisco Sour. Morris was not in Peru in 1903, so there is no way he could’ve known about the pamphlet, but it’s common for different bartenders to create a cocktail with the same ingredients.
The Piña Colada (translated to “strained pineapple”) is Puerto Rico’s national drink, but no one knows the true story of its invention. The first time the words “Piña Colada” were seen in print was in a 1922 travel magazine that said, “But best of all is a Piña Colada, the juice of a perfectly ripe pineapple—a delicious drink in itself—rapidly shaken up with ice, sugar, lime and Bacardi rum in delicate proportions. What could be more luscious, more mellow and more fragrant?” As you can see, there is lime juice in place of the coconut, so this drink could have easily just been called a Pineapple Daiquiri.
As for the Bacardi reference, Bacardi was Cuban rum at the time but expanded to Puerto Rico in 1936. Then during the Cuban Revolution (1959), Bacardi left Cuba. There was a similar Cuban drink created in the 1920s with coconut water, but the modern Piña Colada uses Coco López coconut cream.
Coco López was invented in Puerto Rico by agriculture professor and scientist Ramón López Irizarry (1897–1982) who used government grant funds to create an easier way to extract the cream from the coconut pulp. Irizarry perfected the process in 1949 at age fifty-two. He sold the company in 1966 and died a millionaire sixteen years later.
There are three stories claiming the creation of the Piña Colada, and most lean toward number one.
San Juan’s Caribe Hilton bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Perez claimed to have created the drink on August 16, 1954, by using the new product Coco López cream of coconut at the Beachcomber Bar.
San Juan’s Caribe Hilton bartender Ricardo García claimed to have created the drink during a coconut cutters union strike in 1954.
Barrachina Restaurant bartender Ramón Portas Mingot claimed he created the drink in 1963.
Singapore Sling—The LongBar | RafflesHotel
The Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel has claimed the Singapore Sling, however, many cocktail historians do not agree. The hotel says Hainanese-Chinese head bartender Ngiam Tong Boon created it, and they even have an original handwritten recipe in the Raffles Hotel Museum. On their menu it says, “The Singapore Sling was created at Raffles Hotel at the turn-of-the-century by Hainanese-Chinese bartender, Mr. Ngiam Tong Boon.” In the hotel’s museum, visitors may view the safe in which Mr. Ngiam locked away his recipe books, as well as the Sling recipe jotted on a bar chit in 1936 by a visitor to the hotel who asked the waiter for it. Over the years there have been variations on the recipe, which started with four ingredients and includes seven ingredients today.