History of Cocktails in 10 Drinks

How do you define the history of cocktails in 10 drinks? Cocktails Through Time traced the origins of the cocktails through to Prohibition and onto modern day trends. Presented by Tom Egerton of Eau de Vie Bar, the tasting offered 10 mini cocktails to accompany each story. The session was part of World Class Cocktail Week that took cocktail lovers on a journey through time.

Cocktails Through Time

Time travel began in the 18th century with an introduction to the Milk Punch with a modern day interpretation in the glass made with spiced light rum, cinnamon, spice, honey and bitters.

Cocktails Through Time
L-R: Punch, Sherry Cobbler, Martinez

Next, it was onto the American mixed drink with a refreshing Sherry Cobbler made from dry sherry, fruit and crushed ice. Moving on to the West Coast of America, the Martinez marked the first example of a straight spirit drink and the influence of Jerry Thomas’ book, The Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks Or the Bon-Vivant’s Companion which introduced mixed drinks to the masses.

Cocktails Through Time
Brandy Crusta, Corpse Reviver No 2, Hotel Nacional Special

What followed was the introduction of the sour style of cocktails such as the Brandy Crusta, a precursor to the Sidecar and the Margarita. When phylloxera impacted the grape industry, it led to the rise of American whisky in cocktails such as the Mint Julep, along with the use of absinthe and liqueurs in cocktails such as the Corpse Reviver No 2, made with Gin, Lillet Blanc, Cointreau and Absinthe.

When bartending moved south to Cuba, it saw the popularity of white rum in cocktails with the Hotel Nacional Special (white rum, pineapple, apricot brandy, lime) a drink documented by Charles H Baker. The cocktail symbolised the escape from prohibition and is named after the grand hotel frequented by the wealthy from all around the world.

Cocktails Through Time
L-R: Mai Tai, Japanese Slipper, The Penicillin

The Mai Tai introduced a Tiki subculture of cocktails at a time when ex American soldiers who have had a taste of the Pacific brought the concept to the US. Sweet, fruity, large and ornate cocktails paved the way for the “dark era” of the cocktail.

The rise of the “Disco Drink” meant the demise of the cocktail during a period that used sour mixers, reconstituted juices and glow sticks that were popular. The Japanese Slipper (Midori, Cointreau, lemon juice) created by Jean-Paul Bourguignon at Mietta’s Restaurant in Melbourne was a prime example of a local drink that gained international recognition. Although it is far removed fro today’s palate, it was a drink of its time.

Next came the biggest classic cocktail of modern times. The Penicillin was created by Australian Bartender Sam Ross at Milk & Honey bar in New York and started a resurgence of prohibition style cocktails. Symbolic in its way, The Penicillin was a cure of the Disco Cocktail age.

Cocktails Through Time

The last cocktail of the session brought the theatrics of the open flame to the cocktail with the Blazer, a warming mixture of rum, sugar and spices.

Cocktails Through Time was held on Thursday 28 May 2015 at Eau de Vie Bar.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.