What a week it’s been, with celebrations and events around the globe. From Seattle to Warsaw, Poland, patrons and bar pros raised a glass in toast to the cocktail itself, while also raising funds to support the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) in New Orleans. In other locales, everyone from pundits to politicians to barmen paid homage to the cocktail and enticed others to join in the celebration of this uniquely American concoction; in New York City, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic will continue the party into early next week. Click here to check out video of the World Cocktail Week event at Prada in New York City.
Sadly, I could not partake in any cocktails this week as I’ve been under the weather, but if I did, my drink of choice would be a Corpse Reviver 2, preferably prepared by Lu Brow at the Swizzle Stick in New Orleans. Sigh…
Corpse Reviver 2. Photo courtesy of Jesse Champlin.
While the revelry went on without me, I did find myself fielding some questions as to why the world needs a week to celebrate the cocktail. My response is straightforward: Well, why not? Cocktails have been causing a stir for more than a century and continue to keep things interesting at the bar. Cocktails draw people into bars, nightclubs and restaurants, inspire conviviality, spark conversation and make your cash registers ring. So it has been and so it shall be for a long time, I certainly hope.
Another question is why World Cocktail Week is celebrated now. Those behind it — DeGroff and his partners in crime at MOTAC — are sticklers for authenticity (which is why they serve up such fabulous libations) and kicked off the week on May 6, the date the definition of the term "cocktail" first appeared in print. In the May 6, 1806, editorial page of The Balance and Columbian Repository, a candidate in upstate New York who lost a recent election referred to a cocktail in an editorial, and a reader inquired as to the definition of a cocktail. The editor responded, tongue in cheek: “Cock tail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.”
Although its ascent as a craft was stymied by Prohibition, the cocktail lives again, thanks to the passion of people such as Dale DeGroff, Tony Abou-Ganim and gaz regan, just a few of the early pioneers who sparked the cocktail renaissance and inspired a new generation of bartenders, mixologists, cocktailians and bar chefs. Thanks, guys, for shining a spotlight on the cocktail, that glass of happiness that puts a smile on our guests’ faces and keeps our businesses going. Next year, I plan to celebrate right alongside you!