Why is it called a “cocktail?”

The mystery is solved — sort of

Ever wonder why it’s called a cocktail? I have, and I set out to learn the answer. So, I checked with Gary (Gaz) Regan, my friend and business associate and, a fountainhead of information about all sorts of booze business matters. He has written 18 books on the business including, 101 best new Cocktails, The Bartender’s Gin Compendium, and The Joy of Mixology.

 It turns out that in the new revised and updated edition of The Joy of Mixology, Gaz addresses this question at the outset of this amazing book, which is full of anecdotes, stories, and cocktail recipes. With his permission here are some excerpts on “How Did a Cocktail Come to be called a Cocktail?

On May 13, 1806, the Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, New York, answered a reader’s query as to the nature of a cocktail: “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called a bittered sling.” The cocktail had been born, it had been defined, and yet it couldn’t have been very well known by the general populace, or the newspaper wouldn’t have considered it a fit topic for elucidation.

Where does the word cocktail come from? There are many answers to that question, and none is really satisfactory. One particular favorite story of mine, though, comes from The Booze Reader: A Soggy Saga of a Man in His Cups, by George Bishop: “The word itself stems from the English cock-tail which, in the middle 1800s, referred to a woman of easy virtue who was considered desirable but impure. The word was imported …

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That S*it Will Never Sell

A fascinating book on innovation in the alcohol industry

David Gluckman has spent 45 years in the drinks industry (the British phrase for the Booze Business) creating such outstanding products as Bailey’s Irish Cream (along with Tom Jago), Tanqueray Ten, Cîroc and scores of others. His book, whose title is the heading of this article, is a fascinating guide to what it takes to innovate and launch new products in this industry.

David was born in South Africa and came to the UK and began working in advertising. His accounts included such companies and brands as Procter & Gamble, Kerrygold butter, and several Unilever brands. In the late 1960s, he became a consultant to IDV (International Distillers and Vintners—a company that ultimately became Diageo), and entered the world of brand development.

As a new products/innovation toiler myself, I found the book to be captivating and a joyful ride on the sometimes-turbulent road of brand development.

A review by Paul Walsh (ex CEO of Diageo) put it nicely, “David Gluckman has a ‘one-of-a-kind’ approach to new brand development, but amazingly, it works. You will enjoy this book.”

I sat down (virtually) with David and asked him about his experiences.

You’ve spent most of your career on innovation and product development, what are the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered over the course of your career? Who are the innovation villains?

Somebody once asked me why we had such a high strike rate getting brands onto the market at IDV.  My answer “No marketing people.” No middle managers asking to see alternative ideas to go into massive research programmes.  I can’t imagine major players like Sidney Frank or Abe Rosenberg doing concept testing.  …

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