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sailor22
01-06-2013, 06:30
I'm pretty sure if it's served with a miniature umbrella it is by definition a cocktail. Multiple fruit juices are another tip off.
Assuming there isn't a legal classification for spirits called cocktails it's fun to consider the working definition.

If a cocktail is Whiskey with a flavoring agent added does that make something like American Honey or Red Stag a bottled cocktail? They are obviously flavored whiskeys but isn't that what a Manhattan or an Old fashioned is?

When you finish a whiskey in a Port or Sherry or Cognac barrel aren't you just slowly adding those flavors to the whiskey? Does that make the finished Scotch and Whiskeys a cocktail of sorts? Angels Envy a Bourbon Cocktail? McCallan 12 a Scotch Cocktail?

Suppose you vat a Rye and a Bourbon? Bourbon and Rum? Rye and Vermouth? Are they cocktails or creative vatings? Or both?

If you soak a cherry in Brandy for a few weeks and then drop it into a pour of Bourbon is it a minimalist cocktail or a whiskey with a cherry?




ya'll have fun out there...

Gillman
01-06-2013, 06:53
Here is one very early answer (1806), see page 146, the editor's reply to the letter from a reader asking the same thing:

http://www.imbibemagazine.com/images/Balance_5-13-1806.pdf

Gary

T Comp
01-06-2013, 07:55
Here is one very early answer (1806), see page 146, the editor's reply to the letter from a reader asking the same thing:

http://www.imbibemagazine.com/images/Balance_5-13-1806.pdf

Gary

Great read Gary! I'm going with "composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters" as the answer...and...since I don't want to start a PR & C thing (you know that whole Hamilton -Jefferson thing :lol:) stay away from some of the other observations.

sailor22
01-06-2013, 08:59
I'm guessing they didn't have mini umbrellas back than or they would have been mentioned.

By that definition anything without bitters isn't a cocktail. So all those fruity Rum drinks are......?

I like the guess that Cock-tale must refer to the drinks effect on some portion of the anatomy. Pretty racy for a published piece given the date.

Gillman
01-06-2013, 09:22
I agree. And those times were much closer to Puritan settlement days than today. Funny how things are in that respect.

Originally, cocktails were distinguished by use of bitters but later they expanded into a much broader range of mixed drinks. Wikipedia states that a cocktail is a mix of at least three ingredients, one of which at least must be a spirit. The rest can be juices, wines, fortified liquors, creams, chocolate, herbs, other flavorings. My view is today, a cocktail is usually a short drink of this nature, and a tall one where a spirit and a soda pop (including tonic water) are combined is more properly a mixed drink.

I would say a mix of spirits only is a cocktail including bourbon and rye, in technical terms.

Although you didn't ask Steve, based on the many theories I've read as to the origin of the term itself, I think it comes from the term cocktail as used in horseracing circles in the 1700's and 1800's. It meant, a mixed breed equine. Apparently their tails were cocked to show that they weren't purebreds. And we all know that sporting circles went with alcohol, and often still do (not the performers but the audience of course!). The term cocktails was, per Wikipedia again, first used in England in the sense of a mixed drink and the horseracing term comes from there too, so it just makes sense to me.

Gary

squire
01-06-2013, 09:33
A cocktail is a drink for those who wish to imbibe without tasting straight liquor. For me it's a combination of three or four ingredients shaken with ice and served in a stemmed cocktail glass.

A useful formula is 3-2-1 diminishing in 50% increments. For example, two ounces of Barton, one ounce of peach brandy (liqueur) and 1/2 ounce each of orange juice and pomegranate juice. The juices can be one or two, it's the proportions that count.

Shaken, not stirred. Why, you ask? Because shaking makes the drink colder and is more fun.

HighHorse
01-06-2013, 10:29
For me it's an invention to enable consumers to purchase otherwise undrinkable liquor. (and purveyors to sell more of it!) I guess that it's a nice respite for one who aches for something different once in a while .. just can't remember when that last happened to me. From time to time I'll simply order vodka with three olives and that suffices as a cocktail. The cocktail also provides fun drinks for folk looking for a way to remove inhibitions ... and for that I have in the past been thankful. (and rueful) Lord bless the bartenders!

squire
01-06-2013, 10:41
Ah yes, vodka rocks, the cocktail no bartender can screw up.

tanstaafl2
01-06-2013, 10:42
To quote myself from the rum thread, the history is generally as Gillman said.


Back when the word cocktail had a separate definition (early 1800's) as one of the many categories of alcoholic drinks (to include slings, fizzes, flips, punches, juleps, sours, etc.) a cocktail was defined as "a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters".

Now that a cocktail is broadly used to cover all types of drinks the use of the term "old fashioned" was essentially used to describe the original style of the cocktail, i.e. the "old fashioned cocktail" of the definition above.

Also now that a cocktail is more typically and broadly defined as almost any alcoholic drink it is less clear. More common current definitions include "an iced drink of distilled liquor mixed with flavoring ingredients" or "an alcoholic mixed drink that contains three or more ingredients—at least one of the ingredients must be a spirit".

A spirit being defined on Wiki as an alcoholic beverage containing ethanol that is produced by distilling ethanol produced by means of fermenting grain, fruit, or vegetables. This excludes undistilled fermented beverages such as beer, wine or cider. Although some definitions of a cocktail will include wine as a potential base spirit and some older cocktails used wine as a base spirit. It is perhaps a bit less common today to use wine but it no doubt still occurs.

Under that definition a vatting of spirits only doesn't really seem to fit well although if you counted one spirit as the base and the others as "flavorings" I guess you could fudge it.

To me it's a bit like pornography. I know it when I see it... :cool:

Also, present day cocktail practice generally says that it may be shaken or stirred, usually depending on the ingredients. Usually a drink that includes a juice or a "cloudy" ingredient is shaken with ice while a drink made with "clear" ingredients like the Winter Waltz I posted would be stirred with ice. It is not an absolute rule though by any means. Today's cocktails have also gotten far more involved than what can be covered by a simple 3-2-1 rule. A few good examples that I like that follow no particular rule include two from the beta cocktails book:

Teenage Riot
1.5 Rittenhouse rye
1.5 Cynar
0.5 Dolin Dry Vermouth
0.5 Lustau Dry Amontillado Sherry
2 dashes Regan's orange bitters
Stir with ice (made with all clear ingredients) and serve up with a flamed lemon twist


This next one has that great interplay between rum and bourbon
Transatlantic Giant
1.5 Buffalo Trace bourbon (I typically sub ETL)
0.5 Smith & Cross rum (accept no substitute!)
0.5 Cynar
0.5 Plymouth Sloe Gin (off brand sloe gin tends to be a bit syrupy sweet)
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir with ice and serve up in a coupe

And perhaps one of my all time favorites even though it lacks whiskey
Airbag
1 Reposado tequila (the original creator recommended El Tesoro. I usually sub other highland tequilas like Espolon, Don Julio or El Mayor)
0.5 Batavia Arrack
0.5 Mezcal (the creator recommended Los Amantes Joven Mezcal. I typically use Sombra)
0.75 Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
0.25 St. Elizabeth All Spice Dram
0.25 Benedictine
Dash or so of Chocolate Mole Bitters
Stir with ice and serve up

Here is what the creator, Philip Ward who used to be at Death & Co. and may still be for all I know, noted about the name.

"We have a saying about driving drinks off the cliff, well as I came up with this one I was thinking this was one hell of a car crash if I'd ever seen one. I call it the Airbag Cocktail because it seemed a car crash in which no one died and (don't laugh until you try it) is actually really tasty."

I would have to agree. Tasty it is!

RVTsteve
01-06-2013, 10:43
I don't think aging or finishing in a barrel fits the bill but the others certainly could have an argument, particularly when you start mixing spirits made from different sources, i.e. vermouth, brandy and rum vs. whiskey. I like the the cherry question, I think that might come down to how much brandy gets in there and if you stir it to combine the flavors, otherwise it's just a garnish.

For me a cocktail is a spirited drink consisting of at least two ingredients, namely spirits and bitters. For example a classic Pink Gin is simply gin and bitters, although since you stir it with ice I suppose you could argue water as a third.

I usually prefer simple cocktails like manhattans and sazeracs and so I stir cocktails that don't require shaking, like those with egg or with already cloudy or opaque ingredients. It gets things just as cold with perhaps just a little more effort than shaking while keeping the clarity of the ingredients and using a chilled glass is even better, I prefer a small rocks glass or stemmed saucer, not a fan of the traditional martini glasses.

cheers!

squire
01-06-2013, 11:51
Yeah, I keep 'em simple, can't remember the complicated recipes.

smokinjoe
01-06-2013, 12:00
For the sake of clarity in this discussion on cocktails and their ingredients, would bourbon be considered a "spirit"? Or, is it a "juice"? Or, both? In the latter case, if you added BT Juice to a BT Spirit, would you indeed have a "cocktail"? Or, a simple vatting? If you combined a BT juice with Beam juice and 4R juice, would you call it Hawaiian Punch? Could you even name a cocktail containing an unknown juice, such as Willett? ;)

sailor22
01-06-2013, 12:06
Crystal clear now - thanks Joe.:grin: If my buddy describes our waitress as "Juicy", now I know that makes her a Cocktail Waitress.

squire
01-06-2013, 12:07
Bourbon is spirit to me Joe and I know all the stanzas to the Hymn.

RVTsteve
01-06-2013, 12:11
Yeah, I keep 'em simple, can't remember the complicated recipes.

same, if it weren't in the name I'd have to look up what goes in a gin & tonic.

Gillman
01-06-2013, 13:58
If a cocktail uses bourbon but the (distilling) origin is unknown, that is the perfect form of cocktail! That is the whole point of the drink, something of mixed origins whose identity is created by the mixture. So for anyone who has on hand any NDP bourbon they can't come to terms with, this is the perfect use.

I agree vatted spirits cannot be a cocktail if they are the same type, e.g. a vatting of malts only or bourbons only isn't a cocktail. (Indeed under the regs in the U.S. a mix of straight bourbons can be called straight bourbon full stop). But where the spirits are different, you have more than one ingredient, so... Where one is used in very minor form to add an accent, there is an argument it isn't a cocktail but just a flavored form of the principal spirit.

Gary

Gillman
01-06-2013, 14:16
As (I will hazard) one of the few on the forum to possess a bottle of Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum 57% ABV, I offer my nearly full bottle to the Gazebo table in April if others will bring the other ingredients.

We can re-dub the second cocktail tanstaafl2 mentioned, the NAFTA Giant.

Gary

sailor22
01-06-2013, 14:40
I know where one is on a shelf Gary - is it a must buy?

squire
01-06-2013, 14:44
Gary it's my understanding Smith & Cross was designed to be a flavoring rum for blends and not really intended for drinking straight on it's own. How does that stuff taste?

Gillman
01-06-2013, 15:12
True Squire, in the sense that it is a pot still spirit, so generally mingled with column still rum in the typical blend. On its own though, as here, it is more analogous to a bourbon, or a malt, or a Cognac.

It is very good, spicy and flowery with a faint "funky" note that may be from the wild yeasts I understand are used to ferment the molasses and water base of the spirit. The label can be read to suggest that two pot still productions, Plummer and Wedderburn, are used, but I understand the produce is from one pot still only and the difference is the proof each comes off at, so that one is heavier in body than the other. Some data:

http://www.alpenz.com/images/poftfolio/smithcross114rum.htm

Gary

Gillman
01-06-2013, 15:28
Steve, it's difficult to say. I know of nothing else quite like it, so I would say yes.

Gary

squire
01-06-2013, 15:34
That's the one Gary, should be a Sampler hit.

Gillman
01-06-2013, 15:36
Done deal, I'm bringing it anyway, cocktail or no. :)

Gary

squire
01-06-2013, 15:37
Steve, can you get Smith & Cross in Florida?

sailor22
01-06-2013, 16:00
I saw one on in a shop a couple of hours from here - so I guess the answer is yes, maybe. That's the only place I have ever seen it and they only had one. It isn't here in Tallahassee.
I should check the proof on the one I saw to make sure it is the same bottling Gary is talking about.

T Comp
01-06-2013, 19:42
I saw one on in a shop a couple of hours from here - so I guess the answer is yes, maybe. That's the only place I have ever seen it and they only had one. It isn't here in Tallahassee.
I should check the proof on the one I saw to make sure it is the same bottling Gary is talking about.

Sounds intriguing from the write up...might be worth the road trip Steve. Looking forward to trying this one Gary and whatever you determime how it best be imbibed ;).

squire
01-06-2013, 20:14
Does the Berns outlet in Tampa sell it? They are listed as a dealer.

tanstaafl2
01-06-2013, 20:55
As (I will hazard) one of the few on the forum to possess a bottle of Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum 57% ABV, I offer my nearly full bottle to the Gazebo table in April if others will bring the other ingredients.

We can re-dub the second cocktail tanstaafl2 mentioned, the NAFTA Giant.

Gary

As this is a pretty regular cocktail for me I have all the necessary ingredients on hand including the delightful S&C rum (there is only one proof so if you have a bottle you have the right one!) so I would be happy to bring the necessary fixin's for this cocktail (and the others I mentioned as well if desired) on my "maiden" voyage to the gazebo. Presuming someone reminds me to do so closer to April!

S&C rum, along with many of the other very interesting and unusual cocktail mixers made available by Haus Alpenz (http://www.alpenz.com/portfolio.htm), are more readily available at larger stores in Atlanta these days than was the case even a year or two ago.

Gillman
01-07-2013, 05:44
Excellent, that is very good of you. My almost full bottle will be there and I look forward to this interesting drink. Many on the board enjoy rum and we by no means drink only bourbon at these events even though it is the focal point.

Gary

ratcheer
01-07-2013, 07:32
I also prefer the more traditional definition(s) of cocktails. I will only give examples, not trying to get to a precise definition.

A Manhattan or a Sazerac is certainly a cocktail. So is a traditional martini. I would include drinks such as traditional whiskey sours, margaritas, and daquiris. But, to me, a frozen margarita or daquiri would not be a cocktail. I am not sure what the hell they should be called.

A very diluted drink such as a whiskey and soda or a JD and Coke would be a highball, not a cocktail. Even if bitters were added.

I recall another old definition of a cocktail as being "3 parts strong, 2 parts sour, 1 part sweet". I may have the proportions wrong, but it was something like that, and bitters were not mentioned. It was still a stiff drink. I think my general definition would be that, once you have diluted the spirit to less than about 50:50, you have gone outside the realm of cocktails. But, just spirits and ice don't qualify either, as there must be some additional flavoring components.

Tim

Brisko
01-07-2013, 07:40
It's a timeless question and of course the answers change as our sensibilities change. Is a vatting of rum 'n' rye, taken neat a cocktail? Probably, at least as much as a rum 'n' Coke is...

Around here, the word is a catch-all for any alcoholic drink, although the pronunciation seems to vary a little in this usage. Example: "Joe slipped on the ice last night and broke his wrist. Of course, he'd already had a coupla cyacktells in him," she said with a knowing wink. "Cyacktells" here might refer to Grainbelt Premiums, Philips Vodka, or brandy 'n' waters....

Gillman
01-07-2013, 07:45
I once knew a gent from the mid-west who used the term in that sense, of any alcohol drink. He pronounced it almost, "cacktail", which to me had a mid-west twang to it. I feel you can hear faint German and Scandinavian accents in mid-west speech, but that is getting off-topic!

Gary

Brisko
01-07-2013, 08:39
Yes, Gary, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Cacktail, cyacktell, it varies a bit depending on which of the Great Lakes you're closest to, but it seem that the catch-all usage goes hand in hand with the accent.

squire
01-07-2013, 09:29
Thanks for reminding me of high balls Tim, an appropriate term one doesn't hear too often now. As for the concoctions that rhyme with 'tini'
I believe they are best called 'leg spreaders'.

smokinjoe
01-07-2013, 09:31
There's something comforting about seeing the marquee sign for dining establishments in the Mid-West that advertise "Cocktails" on them, on a cold Winter's night. They're even better when they're in neon. Only seldomly do you see "cocktails" on similar signs here, Down South.

jburlowski
01-13-2013, 03:38
Steve, can you get Smith & Cross in Florida?

TPS has it as well.
https://www.thepartysource.com/express/item.php?id=10923

tanstaafl2
01-13-2013, 08:27
There's something comforting about seeing the marquee sign for dining establishments in the Mid-West that advertise "Cocktails" on them, on a cold Winter's night. They're even better when they're in neon. Only seldomly do you see "cocktails" on similar signs here, Down South.

Speaking of cocktails down south there was a vintage one being promoted by H&F called the Deep South that looked interesting.

1/4 Tennessee Whiskey (they suggested Dickel but presumably JD or most any bourbon would probably work as well. I have also seen this with good old Southern Comfort as the spirit of choice although probably better with the older Southern Comfort that actually had a bit of whiskey in it rather than the junk made today.)
1/4 Dark Rum (ED 12 was suggested. Always a good choice!)
1/4 Lemon Juioce
1/4 Lime juice

Shake with ice, pour into champagne flute and top with brut champagne.

Sounds tasty but a hard one to try as I don't have any splits and even a split is probably too much for a drink for just me. But I do rather like champagne cocktails. Had a New Years Eve party a couple of years ago that featured only champagne cocktails. Had about 10 of them!

Yeti
01-15-2013, 08:46
If my buddy describes our waitress as "Juicy", now I know that makes her a Cocktail Waitress.

This is gold. I can't wait to point out a few "cocktail waitresses" the next time we're out on the town.