18 Surprising Origin Stories of Your Favorite Cocktails

Over 300 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 18 Surprising Origin Stories of Your Favorite Cocktails
Voting Rules
Vote up the most interesting and fascinating origin stories of cocktails, not just your favorite cocktails that leave you with a massive hangover each Saturday morning.

Have you ever wondered how your favorite cocktails and alcoholic drinks were first conceived and how they got their names? Cocktail mixology goes back to the 1860s when alcohol was originally being mixed with water, sugar, and bitters. Today, your favorite libations may have any number of things mixed into them, from fruit purees to syrups to sodas. Whether you're a cocktail connoisseur or a casual bar patron, it's always nice to know where your favorite alcoholic drink originally came from.

What's your favorite cocktail? From Irish coffees to simple gin and tonics, we've got you covered. Read on to learn about the history of these great drinks, and vote up the most interesting origin stories that go with each one. From James Bond to rowdy teenagers on Spring Break, each of these popular cocktails had to start somewhere.

Whether you like vodka, rum, gin, or just about anything mixed with orange juice, this list is full of great drinks that all have unique origins you might not have known. Impress that hottie at the bar with the story behind what he or she is drinking, and bottoms up!

  • 1
    183 VOTES
    Photo: stevepb / Pixnio / Public Domain

    The Screwdriver is a classic gateway drink for people just getting into cocktails. Surprisingly, its origins go back to Turkey in the late 1940s where American engineers working in Turkish oil fields would secretly add vodka to their orange juice. The engineers would then use a screwdriver to mix this easy to prepare drink.

    Source: The Pub 
    183 votes
  • In 1950s Southern California, bartender Donato Antone had a frequent customer named Harvey. Harvey was a surfer who enjoyed adding Galliano to his Screwdrivers. Harvey was known to overindulge and would often drunkenly stumble into the walls of Antone's bar. Naturally, Antone decided to name the mix of vodka, Galliano, and orange juice after Harvey and his wall banging ways. 

    Source: ListVerse
    146 votes
  • 3
    165 VOTES

    There's an old drink called the Daisy, which is a mix of brandy, triple sec, and lemon juice. According to legend, one day, a bartender in Tijuana was making a Daisy and accidentally grabbed a bottle of tequila instead of brandy. The accident became a hit at the bar, and it was quickly dubbed a Margarita (the Spanish word for daisy).

    Source: TravelStart
    165 votes
  • 4
    133 VOTES

    For some reason, in 1874, if you wanted to pull a great prank, you'd tell your friend that a man named Tom Collins had been spreading nasty rumors about him or her in a nearby bar. People would then run into the local pub and demand to see Tom Collins, much to the laughter (or confusion) of the bar's patrons. It seems some pioneering bartender heard that joke one too many times and decided to make this refreshing gin cocktail. That way the next time somebody ran into the bar demanding to see Tom Collins, the bartender could give him a drink.

    Source: Mental Floss
    133 votes
  • 5
    128 VOTES
    On one particular cold night at Foynes Airport in the early 1940s, a group of Americans disembarked from their Pan-Am flying boat feeling absolutely frigid. In order to help them warm up quicker, the airport's head chef gave them all coffee with a few drops of whiskey in it. One passenger asked him if the robust drink was Brazilian coffee. The chef replied, "No, that's Irish coffee!"
    128 votes
  • 6
    120 VOTES

    Some cocktails actually have semi-medicinal origins. When British soldiers were stationed in colonial India, they had to deal with malaria. They had a tonic water with quinine that would help keep the disease at bay, but it tasted terrible. So, the soldiers mixed it with gin and the Gin and Tonic was born.

    Source: ListVerse
    120 votes