The History Behind Five Famous Drinks

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With summer in full swing, it’s the time of year for relaxing by the pool or lake with a cool, refreshing drink. But have you ever wondered about the origins of the cocktails you’re enjoying? So set down that Kindle or bestselling book for a second, and read the history behind five famous drinks.

The Bellini

This delicious wine cocktail, made with white peach puree and Prosecco, had its origins in Italy sometime between 1934 and 1948. Giuseppe Cipriani, a bar owner in Venice, invented it and based the name on Giovanni Bellini’s painting depicting a saint wearing a toga the same color pink as the peachy beverage. The bar owned by Cipriani was called Harry’s Bar and was frequented by famous men such as Earnest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, and Orson Welles.

Tom Collins

The first recipe for the gin-based drink appeared in the 1876 edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bar-Tender’s Guide. The name of the drink was derived from The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874. The hoax was a widespread practical joke that would begin with people in the US, especially NY and PA, beginning a conversation with “Have you seen Tom Collins?” Predictably, the listener responds that they don’t know a Tom Collins, so the speaker claims that they overheard Tom Collins talking about the listener to others in a local bar or somewhere near. They leave to investigate and, of course, discover that no such Tom Collins exists. The name used in the hoax served as the inspiration for Jerry Thomas’ new cocktail.


The Mojito began in Cuba and is one of the country’s oldest cocktails. Its exact origins are under dispute. Some trace the origins to 1500’s when Sir Francis Drake landed in the city of Havana in order to plunder the city for its gold. The invasion was unsuccessful, but an associate of his did come up with an early version of the drink he called “The Drake”. Another legend claims that slaves invented the drink while working in the Cuban sugar cane fields. The biggest boost in popularity of the drink can be traced back to the creation of the Bacardi Company in the mid 1800’s.

The Daiquiri

This popular warm-weather drink also had its start in Cuba. It was invented by an American miner who was entertaining guests in Cuba during the early 20th century. He had run out of gin, so he made a punch using the readily available rum, plus lemons, water, and sugar. The guests loved it and asked what it was called. He named it after the nearby beach, which was called Daiquiri. Although the combination of citrus, rum, and sugar had been used before, this was the first known instance of the addition of ice, thanks to the recently invented method of refrigeration.

Moscow Mule

While the origins of some drinks are debatable, the famous cocktail that combines vodka and ginger beer is not one of them. It was invented in the 1940’s by John G Martin, who had bought the U.S. rights to Smirnoff vodka in 1939. Unfortunately, vodka was very unpopular in the country at the time and he had an impossible time at moving the product. That would change one night when he happened to be at NY’s Chatham Hotel bar at the same time as John Morgan, the owner of Cock ‘N Bull Ginger Beer. They were both lamenting the slow sales of their drinks, when someone brought up the idea of combining the two. The Moscow Mule was born.

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