The Evolution of the Cocktail: The Happy Ali Cocktail

Cocktails

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Cocktails

The Evolution of the Cocktail: The Happy Ali Cocktail

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There is no clear indication as to exactly when cocktails began to have names. Sure, a traditionalist with a taste for the pure and simple might ask for a Gin and Tonic or a Whisky Soda. But any modern-day mixology menu will feature the Moscow Mule, Long Island Ice Tea, Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Gimlet, Negroni…

There is some evidence that the earliest named cocktail was the Old Fashioned, a simple cocktail of liquor (rye or Scotch whisky, rum or gin) with bitters, syrup and an ice cube. It may have been named after the glass in which it was served which was known as an old-fashioned liquor glass; a short tumbler with a heavy base to prevent it being knocked over.

The Manhattan was supposedly named after New York’s Manhattan Club where it was created around 1860. This simple mix of Bourbon, bitters and vermouth was for a time the world’s most famous cocktail. It would not, however, have existed without the influx of Italian immigrants who brought with them vermouth – a liquor at the time unknown in the US.

The Rob Roy is just a Manhattan made with Scotch whisky instead of Bourbon. It was allegedly created at the Waldorf Astoria after they ran out of Bourbon and was named after the eponymous operetta being performed at the time.

There are several theories for the derivation of the Martini. One says that the famed bartender and cocktail mixer Jerry Thomas created it for a thirsty miner in return for a gold nugget. The miner was on his way to the town of Martinez in California, hence the name. Another theory is that it was created at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City by an Italian bartender named Martini Di Dima di Taggia. Our personal favourite version is that it was named after the Martini and Henry rifle used by the British army from 1870-1890. Both apparently gave an enormous kick!

Then there is the Bloody Mary, created in the 1920s at Harry’s New York Bar — which was actually in Paris. Legend has it that the tomato-juice-and-vodka combination was served to an American who said that it looked like a bucket of blood, referencing the famous Chicago nightclub of that name. Or it could, of course, have been named after the British queen with a penchant for executing Protestants.

Bloody Mary
The inimitable Bloody Mary

In any case, none of these cocktails would have been quite the same without the invention of that ubiquitous accessory: the cocktail shaker.

Cocktails used to be mixed simply by stirring with a long spoon – until someone had the bright idea of putting ice in the glass together with the desired liquids, placing a cup on top and shaking it. 

Then, in 1884 a certain Edward Hauck of Brooklyn patented his ‘Cobbler Shaker.’ A metal device that consisted of a body with a built-in shaker and a lid. It is basically the same design we still use today. 

However, there are still cocktails which, according to the perfectionist, should be stirred rather than shaken: a Martini, an Old-Fashioned and a Manhattan. 

So James Bond got it wrong when he insisted on ordering his martinis “shaken not stirred.”

Martini

Incidentally, for the purists among you, in the books and short stories, Bond ordered a total of 19 Vodka Martinis and 16 Gin Martinis and still managed to save the world several times over. There’s a moral there somewhere.

So, in the spirit (as it were) of great cocktails, we decided to ask our favourite mixologist, Devender Kumar, or Dev as he prefers to be known, to create a new cocktail especially for us. 

How To Make The Happy Ali Cocktail

Watch the video to see how to mix the perfect Happy Ali cocktail.

You can head off to 8 ¹⁄₂ Otto e Mezzo’s bar for an aperitif before dinner there and ask Dev to make you a Happy Ali. You won’t regret it! I can judiciously report that the Happy Ali cocktail had exactly the desired effect. After half a dozen we were all extremely happy!

Cheers from Happy Ali and have a Happy New Year!

You can also watch an interview with Arthur Koeman, Founder of Happy Ali below.

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