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Article: 5 legends about the origin of the word cocktail

5 légendes sur l’origine du cocktail

5 legends about the origin of the word cocktail

We all love to enjoy a nice cocktail with friends, family, at home, on a terrace, on the beach... Have you ever wondered about the origin of this drink?

The English etymology is clear: the "cock tail" refers to a composition with multiple colours, and therefore various ingredients combined in a colourful presentation.

The cocktail appeared around 1800. On May 13th, 1806 an American newspaper, the Balance and Columbian Repository, published what we consider today as its birth certificate: "Cocktail is a stimulating drink, made of all kinds of spirits, sugars, water and bitters". The cocktail was far from what we know today. It is only the addition of bitters, a new ingredient in the preparation of drinks, that gave it its identity.

Its origin is not precisely defined, but there are legends...


The mammoth

The invention of this cocktail may date back to the homo sapiens, who were believed to add lemon juice to mammoth blood to give it flavour. Having mastered fire, their curiosity led them to add spices and fruits to water. The art of mixing was born.


Language mixing

The most common version states that the word cocktail comes from the fact that a French bartender served a drink, "Bitters", in an egg cup with two handles. The English customers did not understand the French word for "egg cup" ("coquetier"), mistaking it for “cocktail” ...


The princess with a special name

 According to another legend, the origin of the word "cocktail" was born when a Mexican princess called Xoctl, offered drinks to American officers welcomed at the court of her father. The officers did not understand that Xoctl was the name of the princess and thought it was the name of the drink. From there, the term "cocktail" entered our vocabulary to designate an exotic drink!


The bottle with an original shape

 In 1779, Miss Betty Flanagan, owner of the "Old Tavern" near Yorktown, is said to have created a mixture which she called Bracer, a beverage which she presents in a bottle in the shape of a rooster's tail. Her customers particularly appreciated this drink.

Unfamiliar with the English language, they only remembered the expression "cocktail". When they returned to their native country, they would bring the idea and expression back to their fellow countrymen.


The wandering rooster

Or also the legend of an American cabaret-keeper’s daughter, who just lost her rooster with its colourful tail and offered a drink to the man who would find it. She baptized this drink "cocktail"?


What about you? Which of these legends appeals to you the most? Do you know other stories?

At Camus, we help you discover or rediscover cognac-based cocktails, with our cocktail kits.


The Sidecar is one of the very first cognac-based cocktails to have been invented! If you don't know its story, read the article The history of the Sidecar

Discover the Sidecar Kit (Cognac + triple sec + lemon) available on our e-shop.


Our new cocktail kit has been released on our e-shop: Le French Connection.

It will be composed of:

  • Cognac Ile de Ré Fine Island
  • Amaretto Adriatico liquor
  • And to complete your cocktail bar, the kit will consist of 2 utensils: Tumbler glass + Mixing spoon

Drink responsibly


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