A-Z Guide to Cocktail Names & Origins (Part 2) Slideshow


Mai Tai


Invented by Vic Bergeron in 1944 at his Polynesia-style Oakland bar. He did not want fruit juices detracting from the two ounces of J. Wray Nephen Jamaican Rum he poured as the base for his creation. He merely added a half ounce of French orgeat (an almond-flavored syrup), a half ounce of orange curacao, a quarter ounce of rock candy syrup, and the juice of one lime. Customer Carrie Wright of Tahiti was the first to taste the concoction, to which she responded, "Mai tai...roe ae," (Tahitian for "Out of this world...the best"). The Mai Tai became famous, and conflicting stories about its origins aggravated Bergeron so much that he elicited a sworn statement from Mrs. Wright in 1970, testifying to his authorship of the cocktail.



One story recounts a bartender in Pueblo, Mexico, named Daniel Negrete who had a girlfriend named Margarita. She took a dab of salt with everything she drank. To please her, Negrete created a drink of ice, Cointreau, tequila and lime juice and put salt around the rim of the glass.


Another legend says that Margarita Sames of San Antonio, Texas, was a frequent visitor to Acapulco and a patron of the bar at the Flamingo Hotel. She had a special passion for tequila and encouraged the bartenders to create variations using the Mexican liquor. Her special favorite was a combination of tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice.


And then there's the tale of the ship that lost most of its provisions during a violent storm. All was lost save a supply of Cointreau, tequila, and limes. An imaginative shipmate combined the ingredients, was delighted with the result, and named the mixture after his beloved - you guessed it - Margarita!


Created around 1925 at the Ritz Hotel bar in Paris. It took its name from the mimosa flowering plant, whose color it resembled.


The recipe was created around 1874 at The Manhattan Club in New York for Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston's mother, on the occasion of her banquet in honor of the lawyer and politician Samuel J. Tilden.


Maryse Chevriere


1. By bartender Professor Jerry Thomas of San Francisco for a stranger on his way to Martinez. Made with gin, vermouth, bitters, dash of maraschino.


2. By a bartender in Martinez, California, for a gold miner who struck it rich. The miner ordered champagne for the house, but there was none. The bartender offered something better, a "Martinez Special." The rich miner spread the word, ordering a "Martinez Special" throughout California.


3. After the British army rifle: The Martini and Henry. The rifle was known for its kick, like the first sip of gin and "it" ("it" being vermouth.)


4. After Martini and Rossi Vermouth, because it was first used in the drink half and half with gin.


5. At the Knickerbocker Hotel in the early 1900s, a bartender named Martini di Arma Tiggia mixed a Martini using only a dry gin and dry vermouth.

Moscow Mule

Unveiled at Hollywood's Cock N' Bull by owner Jack Morgan and one Jack Martin in 1946 to rid himself of an overstock of ginger beer.


Wikimedia Commons/Geoff Peters

It seems that a certain Count Negroni of Florence once requested a drink that would stand apart from all the Americanos ordered at his favorite neighborhood cafe. The bartender answered his request with a cocktail composed of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, and he garnished the result with a tell-tale orange slice. Unfortunately for the count, the drink became as popular as the Americano.

Old Fashioned

Originated by a bartender at the Louisville Pendennis Club in Kentucky for Colonel James E. Pepper, a distiller of Bourbon Whiskey.

Piña Colada

Two stories, take your pick. On a plaque at 104 Forales Street, once the Barrchina Bar and now a perfumery, reads: "The house were in 1963 the Piña Colada was created by Don Ramon Portas Mingat." Across town at the Caribe Hilton, Bartender Ramon (Monchito) Marreri says he created the Piña Colada in 1954.

Planters Punch

Attributed to a bartender at Planters Hotel in St Louis. Also credited to a Jamaican planter's wife offering a drink that was one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong and four parts weak to cool off from the Jamaican sun.

Ramoz Fizz

By the proprietor of the Old Stagg Saloon in New Orleans' French Quarter, called Ramos, of course. Stories say it took eight to ten waitresses to shake this drink.

Rob Roy

From Robert MacGregor, Scotland's Robin Hood. Roy being the Scottish nickname for a man with red hair.


By Texas oil rig workers who stirred vodka and orange juice with their screwdrivers.

Side Car

According to one-time owner of Harry's New York Bar in Paris, Harry MacElhone, the drink was named after a motorcycle sidecar in which a customer was driving into the bar.

Silk Panties

Maryse Chevriere

Created by Sandra Gutierrez of Chicago, IL, and winner of BARTENDER Magazine's 1986 Schnapps Contest.

Singapore Sling

By a bartender at the Long Bar in Singapore's Raffles Hotel around 1915.

Tom Collins

By John Collins, waiter at Lipmmer's Old House in Hanover Square in England. "Tom" was used instead of John from the use of Old Tom Gin. Today a "John Collins" would use whiskey.



Inventor Don Beaches was an innovator of the Polynesian-style, umbrella-bedded fufu drink. Real Polynesians never drank such things, but the tropical atmosphere at Beaches's Los Angeles restaurant inspired him. Don "the Beachcomber" made Scorpions, Beachcombers and Zombies seem as island-indigenous as poi. He invented the Zombie back in the thirties as a mix of three different rums, papaya juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, grenadine, orgeat, Pernod and curaçao. What has survived is the 151 float — that, and the effect its name suggests.