Today is World Cocktail Day! While it might be a good excuse to have a drink, the day is actually to bring awareness to the effects of drinking and aims to reduce the harm to families caused by drinking. It was started by Drinkaware, a non-profit that encourages the responsible use of alcohol, and is meant to create fun, while bringing awareness to this important topic.
Since many people are still stuck at home, you can celebrate the day by trying out a new cocktail or connecting with friends via a “virtual cocktail hour.” According to various reports, demand for many different types of alcohol have spiked during the pandemic. Sales of alcoholic beverages were up 58% for the week of March 21, according to Nielsen, with Tequila leading the pack, up 75%. Not knowing how long stay-at-home orders will last, sales of canned cocktails were up 93%.
If you don’t have the ingredients on hand, online alcohol sales have jumped significantly during the pandemic. Nielsen reported that online spirits sales were up 243%. Some of the winners include Drizly, which saw a 300% increase in sales, Winc, a 578% increase in new member sign ups, Vivino, up 162%, and Vinopro was up 50% since the start of the pandemic.
The term “cocktail” goes back to 1806, referring to mixing liquor with a wide variety of sweets, bitters, and water, originating in Britain. The concept grew in the United States in 1862 when bartender Jerry Thomas wrote “The Bartender’s Guide,” an encyclopedia of how to mix drinks and recipes, including some of the best combinations of drinks and flavors.
During American prohibition, the popularity of cocktails grew significantly, as they were the perfect way to make low-quality, smuggled rum, gin, and whiskey more drinkable. Drinks such as mojitos, the Sidecar, and the Tom Collins grew in popularity, despite alcohol not being legal. The “Roaring Twenties” gave birth to some of the most popular modern-day cocktails including the Gimlet, the Bees Knees, and the Rum Runner.
Over the next several decades, many new cocktails were born, such as the Hurricane in the 1940’s and the Pina Colada in Puerto Rico in the 1950’s. During the 1980’s a “cocktail culture” ushered with the help of New York’s Rainbow Room mixologist Dale DeGroff. He created a large menu that celebrated the modern cocktail mixing revolution and further grew the popularity of cocktails.