The Stories Behind 9 Of The World's Most Famous Cocktails

In great cocktails, like great art, sometimes it just takes one man to see things differently.
Publish date:
Updated on

Now this, this is the life



Have you ever been sat sipping your favourite cocktail and wondering who the bloody hell could come up with something so amazing, well here's your chance to find out:

Bloody Mary, Harry’s New York Bar, 5, Rue Daunou, Paris, France

Since opening its doors for business in Paris on Thanksgiving Day (26 November) 1911, Harry’s New York Bar has established itself among the great cocktail bars of the world. A regular haunt of legendary drinkers including Earnest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart and Jack Dempsey, the eponymous Harry was the original bartender and, later, owner of this Parisian institution - Harry MacElhone. Today, the Scottish born MacElhone’s legacy lives on in the numerous drinks he created here, including the Sidecar in 1931 and most famously, The Bloody Maryin 1921.

Singapore Sling, The Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road, Singapore

Developed by Raffles Head Barman, Ngiam Tong Boon (嚴崇文), prior to 1915, the Singapore Sling has been enjoyed at the Long Bar by the likes of Rudyard Kipling, Noel Coward and Joseph Conrad. While the recipe for this classic cocktail has changed over the intervening years, the key to a classic Singapore Sling is freshly pressed pineapple juice  that creates the drink’s distinctive foamy top.

Manhattan, The Manhattan Club, 200 West 56th Street, New York City, USA

In the cocktail canon, few drinks have the universal appeal of the ‘King of Cocktails - the Manhattan. According to popular history, the drink was invented at New York’s exclusive Manhattan Club by one Dr Iain Marshall in 1870, for a reception in honour of presidential candidate, Samuel J Tilden.

Old Fashioned, The Pendennis Club, 218 West Muhammad Ali Blvd. Louisville, Kentucky, USA

One of the world’s oldest cocktail’s, still popular today, the Old Fashioned is reckoned to have started life at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky – the home of American Bourbon. So established is this classic drink that it even has a tumbler glass named after it and the cocktail is said to have been brought to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York by distiller, Colonel James Pepper, in the 1880s.

Bellini, Harry’s Bar, Sestiere San Marco 1323, Venice, Italy

Another Harry’s, this time opened on the waterfront in Venice by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1931, takes credit for the invention of the Bellini. First mixed sometime between 1934 and 1948, this pink, fruity concoction was named after the 15th century Venetian artist, Giovanni Bellini, who favoured the peach colour.

Mint Julep, Churchill Down, 700 Central Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

While the provenance of the Mint Julep may be forever lost in the mists of time, it was already a popular drink in the Southern States of the US by the early 1900s. By 1938 the cocktail had become the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and today over 120,000 Mint Julep's are served during the two day event at Churchill Downs.

Mai Tai, Trader Vic’s, 4261 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, California, USA

Generally agreed to have come out of Trader Vic’s ‘Polynesian Bar’ in Oakland, California in 1944, a rival claim to the Mai Tai comes from Hollywood’s eponymous staple, Don The Beachcomber, in 1933. However, it is certain that the cocktail’s name comes from the Tahitian word for ‘Good’ – “Maita’i”

Daiquiri, El Floridita, 557 Monserrate, Havana, Cuba

The Daiquiri was invented by an American Engineer called  Jennings Stockton Cox in 1898. He was in the town of Daiquirí (Cuba) overseeing the exploration for iron ore. The miners were already receiving a monthly ration of BACARDÍ rum, but, after experiencing the heat first-hand, he took some and shook it with fresh lime juice, sugar and ice to cool him down each morning ahead of going into the mines.

Pina Colada, Caribe Hilton, 1 San Geronimo Street, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The official drink of Puerto Rico since 1978, the Pina Colada was probably first mixed at the Caribe Hilton's Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, around 1954, by Ramon Marrero, the bartender charged with creating a signature drink for the hotel’s celebrity clientele. Today, the nearby Barranchina Bar also carries a plaque claiming to be the true birthplace of the beverage, however aficionados say the Beachcomber’s taste better.