The Golden Age of Cocktails: 1806 to 1910s

The ‘Golden Age of Cocktails’ was a cocktail culture originally for professionals and high society from 1806 to the 1910s. It soon spread to mass appeal in bars, fine restaurants, private clubs, and cocktail parties in Europe, England, and the U.S. during the 19th Century. It faded out in the 1910s with the outbreak of World War One.

The first mention of a cocktail was in 1806 in the Balance & Columbia Repository newspaper Hudson, New York. Cocktails were popularized in the writings of Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, William Thackeray, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and others. Newspapers, magazines, and cookbooks printed cocktail recipes. By mid-century bartender guides were published. The British and U.S. Navies greatly spread cocktail recipes from port to port.

The original cocktail was described as “spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.” Alcohol used was very similar to spirits produced today, mostly gin, vodka, whisky, bourbon, scotch, rum, brandy, sherry, and port.

Social drinking became re-established with the 1920’s Prohibition when everybody drank. After World War Two in the Fifties, social drinking at home became popular as a form of entertainment. Men and women would often have a drink after work to unwind. To encourage women’s drinking, bartenders invented fruity and sweet cocktails such as the Grasshopper, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and Sloe Gin Fizz. Sunday brunches also grew in popularity where Mimosas and Bloody Marys would be served. Of course beer, ale, wine, and champagne have always been popular in America.

Rum and whisky were popular in the 1940s since it was hard to obtain gin and vodka during war rationing. Gin and vodka soon became very popular in the Fifties. Tiki restaurants were another popular trend in the 1950s and 1960s. A new Cocktail Culture emerged in the 2000s with new and exciting cocktails.

Old Fashioned

30 Classic Cocktails Everyone Should Drink Once | Eat This Not That

An iconic cocktail that originated in the 1830s. Making a proper old fashioned is considered an art form.


2 parts bourbon or rye whisky

1 sugar cube

few dashes Angostura bitters

few dashes of water

Muddle sugar, bitters, and water in an old fashioned glass.

Fill with ice and whisky, stir.


Absinthe Effects & The Green Fairy Drink Fallacy - Vertava Health Ohio

Absinthe was popular in Switzerland and France in the early 1800s and spread across Europe, England, and the U.S

1 oz. absinthe

Pour ice cold water over a sugar cube on a spoon over the drink until dissolved.


Here is why you should be drinking your whiskey on the rock | The Times of India

Whisky is a liquor made from fermented grain such as rye, wheat, barley, or corn. It is aged in wooden barrels. Distillation of whisky goes back to 13th Century Italy.

Sherry Punch

Sparkling Sherry Punch

Sherry is a fortified wine that originated in Spain during ancient Roman times. It became popular in Britain in the 16th Century. Sherry punch is mentioned by Charles Dickens.


1/4 cup port wine

1/2 cup sherry

1/4 cup orange liqueur

1 1/2 cups brandy

2 chilled bottles of sparkling wine

1 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar


Sherry Cobbler

Classic Sherry Cobbler Recipe

A popular drink that was mentioned by Charles Dickens.


4 parts Sherry

1 part brandy

sugar to taste

orange slice

Brandy Eggnog

How to Make Eggnog

An Edgar Allen Poe family recipe:

1 part brandy

1 part rum

7 eggs

5 cups milk

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 cup sugar

Gin Martini

Martini cocktail: shaken or stirred? - FreshMAG

The best known and widely popular cocktail that can be made with gin or vodka. Martinis originated in the 1860s.


4 parts gin or vodka (today 6 parts)

1 part dry vermouth

Mix in a shaker with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with lemon peel oil and olives.


What Makes a Bourbon? Tips For Ordering Your Perfect Glass of Whiskey - Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar

Bourbon is barrel aged whisky made from corn. It was brought to Kentucky by Scots in the 18th Century.

Wassail Bowl

Wassail - Wikipedia

Wassail is a traditional mulled cider drink that goes back to 12th Century Old Norse and Old Anglo Saxon times.


four 12 oz. bottles of hard cider

two 12 oz. bottles of pale ale

1 cup Madeira wine

2 cups apple cider

6 apples cored and baked in sugar water for 1 hour until tender

1 cup brown sugar

10 whole cloves

10 whole allspice berries

4 cinnamon sticks

2 wide strips orange zest

2 wide strips lemon zest

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg.

Simmer hard cider, ale, cider, and wine in a large pot. Add cloves, allspice, cinnamon, orange zest, lemon zest, ginger, and nutmeg. Reduce heat and steep for 1 hour, strain.

Add baked apples.

Mulled Wine

Mulled Wine

Is a very popular and traditional in England. It comes from ancient Roman times.


1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 bottle of red wine

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 lemon

8 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

pinch ground nutmeg.

Heat water and sugar in a saucepan until dissolved. Add lemon, cloves, and cinnamon, and bring to boil. Strain and pour back into the pan. Add wine and heat but do not boil.


Scotch is simply whisky made in Scotland and first written about in 1454. It is made from alt or grain and is aged in oak barrels.

Gin Sling

Classic Gin Sling (With Variations)

Gin was invented in Holland and reached England in the 17th Century and became very popular in the 18th Century. A simple drink of Gin with lemon slices, sugar, and ice.

Mulled Cider

ACV Health Double Strength Apple Cider Vinegar (500 ml) | Lazada PH

A traditional drink in England, U.S., and Canada.


2 quarts apple cider

20 whole cloves

1/2 cup sugar

20 cinnamon sticks

14 whole allspice

1/4 tsp. salt

Boil for 15 minutes and let stand for 12 hours. A crock pot can be used. Serve hot or cold.

When serving add 1 oz. of alcohol per cup of cider, use either rum, bourbon, or whisky.


MANHATTAN | Whisky Sir Edward's

A well known fashionable drink which is rich with strong flavors. Manhattans originated in the 1870s in New York. A manhattan using scotch is called a Rob Roy.


2 parts rye whisky or bourbon or Canadian whisky

1 part sweet red vermouth

1 dash Angostura bitters

Mix with ice, stir and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with a cocktail cherry.


Stinger Cocktail - Kitchen Geekery

A ‘society’ cocktail of the upper classes in New York in the 1890s. Billionaire Vanderbilt popularized the drink.


3 parts cognac or brandy

1 part white crème de menthe

Mix with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with mint leaves.

Tom Collins

5 classic Tom Collins cocktail recipes - Click Americana

The Tom Collins grew in popularity in the U.S., England, France, and Germany in the 1880s.


3 parts gin

2 parts lemon juice

1 part sugar syrup

4 parts soda water

Mix in a Tom Collins glass with ice.

Garnish with a lemon slice and a cocktail cherry.

Whisky Sour

Whisky Sour inspired by I Am Legend - All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Originates in the 1870s and was popular in North and South America.


3 parts bourbon or whisky

2 parts fresh lemon juice

1 part sugar syrup

Shake with ice, strain into an old fashioned glass.

Mint Julep

The Easiest-Ever Mint Julep Recipe | Real Simple

The signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby since 1932. The drink originated in the 1780s and was a popular drink throughout the southern states.


3 ounces bourbon

4 mint sprigs

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

2 teaspoon water

Muddle mint, sugar, water in a highball glass, fill with cracked ice, add bourbon, stir.

Garnish with a mint sprig.


Mojito Cocktail | Culinary Hill

A 19th Century originated Cuban drink which was Ernest Hemingway’s favorite.


2 parts rum

1 part fresh lime juice

6 mint sprigs

2 teaspoons of sugar

slash of soda water

Mix and pour into a Tom Collins glass, stir.

Garnish with sprigs of mint and a slice of lime.

Hot Toddy

How to Make Eggnog

The hot toddy originated in Ireland in the 18th Century.

Per person, in a cup

1 shot whisky

1/2 cup hot water

2 tsp honey or sugar

Juice of a lemon wedge

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch of nutmeg



The drink originated in Cuba and was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway who lived in Cuba.


2 parts rum

1 part fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons sugar

Stir, dissolve sugar, add ice, shake, strain into a chilled martini glass.



The Sazerac cocktail originated in 1850 New Orleans at the Saerac Coffee House.


5 parts cognac

1 part absinthe

1 sugar cube

2 dashes of Peychard’s Bitters

Garnish lemon peel

Mix the ingredients in a glass. Rinse a seperate chilled glass with absinthe and ice, discard. Strain the mixed drink into the chilled glass.


  • The Bar Book Elements of Cocktail Technique, Jeffrey Morganthaler
  • The Craft of the Cocktail, Dale DeGroff
  • Meehan’s Bartender Manual, Jim Merhan
  • Modern Cocktail Classics, Robert Simonson
Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood
Bruce J. Wood, founder of AOIDE Bruce J. Wood has worked on Wall Street in business finance and strategy, and has written hundreds of finance business plans, strategic plans, economic feasibility studies, and economic impact studies. Bruce has lectured on creativity and strategic thinking, as well as worked on the development of numerous publishing, film, television, and performing arts projects, along with downtown revitalizations, using the arts as an economic catalyst. As an aficionado of music, art, and dance, Bruce is also a writer and an outdoor enthusiast. He has written poetry, blogs, articles, and many creative project concepts. He lives in the Metro Detroit area and enjoys writing poetry, backpacking, and ballroom dancing.

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