From Manhattan To Old Fashioned, Here’s How These Whisky Cocktails Got Their Names

by Mallika Khurana
From Manhattan To Old Fashioned, Here’s How These Whisky Cocktails Got Their Names

Regardless of what you may think of whisky cocktails, they are still a very popular way to enjoy your favourite spirit. These time-tested concoctions add to a well-rounded whisky experience. But how were they first created? If you were ever curious about that, your search is about to come to an end. Take a look at these five intriguing backstories of the most well-known whisky cocktails.

Stories About Six Whisky Cocktails

1. Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee
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In the 1940s, a restaurant opened up near Foynes Airport in Ireland, one of Europe’s busiest airports and a transatlantic flight hub. Many travellers were left stranded as they waited out the bad weather. Sheridan, the bartender at the restaurant, made the decision to whip up a warm beverage that was also tasty because he felt bad for the tired and cold travellers. According to reports, an American took the first sip and inquired whether it was Brazilian coffee. Young Sheridan responded proudly that it was, in fact, an Irish coffee. Fascinating, right?

2. Manhattan

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This classic cocktail was first mentioned in print in a September 1882 article from the Olean, New York-based Sunday Morning Herald. The drink’s components as well as its now-famous name were both mentioned in this article. There is some confusion, though, because other names, like Jockey Club Cocktail and Turf Club Cocktail, were also mentioned. Two years later, in 1884, the Manhattan cocktail’s first comprehensive recipe was published in “The Modern Bartenders’ Guide” by O.H. Byron.

3. Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned
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Apparently, Old Fashioned was described as an “Old Fashioned Holland Gin Cocktail” in Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide: How To Mix Drinks, published in 1862. Then, historians asserted that the Pendennis Club, a private gentleman’s club with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky,  invented it.

Bourbon distiller James E. Pepper also allegedly took the recipe to the Waldorf Astoria hotel bar in New York. To make it more confusing, another legend claims that the cocktail was produced in bulk for sale to officers and soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War. The exact story of this whisky cocktail is still a mystery, but its popularity certainly makes up for the confusion.

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4. Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour
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According to legend, whisky sours were being consumed by British Navy sailors long before 1860. Since clean water wasn’t always available on long sea voyages, sailors preferred spirits (especially those that could be enjoyed at room temperature, like whisky and bourbon) to quench their thirst. Additionally, they would always have an endless supply of lemons and limes on deck because scurvy was a constant threat. This concoction is certainly a creative innovation.

5. Sazerac

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The name of the potent cocktail is derived from Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils, a French brandy. The cocktail was modernised by substituting American Rye for the cognac and adding Absinthe (which was later replaced by Peychaud’s Bitters). You can still visit the Roosevelt Hotel’s Sazerac Bar for a taste of the real thing and to honour the drink’s illustrious past. 

6. Rob Roy

Rob Roy
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Developed in 1894 by a bartender at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, New York City, the Rob Roy is a cocktail primarily made of whisky and vermouth. Rob Roy, an operetta by composer Reginald De Koven, was the inspiration for the name of the beverage. The main distinction between a Manhattan and a Rob Roy is that the former uses bourbon while the latter uses Scotch whisky.

Which of these delicious boozy drinks will you try first? Let us know in the comments below!

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