Why Are Cocktails Called “Cocktails”?

A cocktail is any beverage, appetizer, or hors d’oeuvres that’s made with two or more ingredients. Liquid cocktails usually have at least one kind of alcohol in them and food cocktails are typically finger food that’s served cold. The word cocktail comes from the Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud and the drinks he used to serve in New Orleans. Around the mid-1800s, Peychaud used to serve mixed brandy drinks in a French eggcup.

The French version of the word eggcup is coquetier, which Peychaud’s customers shortened to “cocktay.” Over time, this word was Americanized even further until it became “cocktail” and this version has stuck ever since. Based on this, the word cocktail refers both to the drink itself and the glass it’s served in.

Cocktails typically have a base liquor, like vodka or gin, and come with other flavored ingredients like fruit juice. Some drinks are simple and only involve two liquid ingredients. Other cocktails are more complex, involving a base liquor, several fruit juices, spices, and a garnish. Still, other drinks have ingredients like dairy, such as eggnog or a Chocolatini.

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