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  • Writer's pictureMariani Kino

The History and Evolution of Craft Cocktails in Speakeasies

Craft cocktails’ origin can be tracked down to the 17th century, but nothing is clear about who

and how it emerged. They are first inspired by British punches that are rich in combinations of

fruit juices, spirits, and spices. In 1806, the definition of cocktails that we know today has been

pinned down. The Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, New York put a label to a

stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water, and bitters, that is cocktail.

The mixed liquor became a social badge of honor in the Shakespearean era. The mood-altering

effects of drinking cocktails paved the way for mixed drinks and bartending to become a big

thing. The art of bartending was introduced into the world. Jerry Thomas, an American

bartender, made the first comprehensive bartending guide. The Bartender’s Guide (or How to

Mix Drinks) summarizes all the experience he gained from traveling all over Europe and the

United States of America. The book became a standard-bearer for budding and experienced

bartenders. This innovation became a significant event in the Golden Age of cocktail history.

Came the 90th century, the shadow era that covered the brilliance and color of cocktails. When

the National Prohibition Act turned into the 18th Amendment, the production of beverages that

contain more than half a percent (0.5%) of alcohol was banned. Bars and pubs were shut down,

and owners and investors migrated abroad to continue their trade. Yet, the prohibition of alcohol

did not fully stop people from drinking alcohol. It gave birth to underground speakeasies where

unique and new craft cocktails emerged. From the classic cocktail mixes, bartenders started to

become more playful and creative in mixing and preparing their signature cocktails as they are

forced to create discreet cocktails. Indeed, necessity is the mother of innovation. Many people

could not access regular bars. Through speakeasies, people get to enjoy their booze under

secrecy and exclusivity. On top of it, the bad tasting and homemade booze that lacks flavor and

taste were improved giving birth to more craft cocktail flavors like White Lady and the Bentley.

From the dark prohibition era, the Tiki culture rose from the ashes. Ernest Raymond Beaumont

Gantt’s Hollywood restaurant started the Tiki craze and became a Polynesian popular spot.

Then, Victor Bergeron opened his competing business in San Francisco boosting the

excitement for exotic tropical and eye-catching mixed cocktails. A few of the known tiki cocktails

are M ai Tai and Painkiller which are rum-based, instead of gin or vodka. However, this trend did

not last long. The Tiki business establishments were forced to close down, leaving the legacy of

refreshing and cool signature drinks in the roster of craft cocktails.

The cocktails that we enjoy today are a product of its rich history. From the British inspiration to

the introduction of the art of bartending, the trade of ice, to the prohibition era, and until its rise

in the 20th century we continuously enjoy the classic and new flavors of craft cocktails

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