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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Cocktail



The word Cocktail invokes images of Speakeasys, clandestine bars during the prohibition, well-dressed gangsters with top hats and elegant ladies.

The word Cocktail invokes images of speakeasy’s, clandestine bars during the prohibition, well-dressed gangsters with top hats and elegant ladies on their hips; images of luxurious hotels or venues full of smoke during the jazz era.

The Cocktail, is at the end of the day, the most sophisticated and fun way of drinking, although it is important to maintain the sense of proportion and perfection in its elaboration.

Stork Club Cub Room November 1944

Many cocktail world scholars haven’t accomplished a consensus on the origins of the word cocktail. There are many urban legends that say that it proceeds from the literal understanding of a cock’s tail. It just so happened that there was a well-known sailor’s tavern famed for serving mysterious mixes and combinations.

Others prefer the idea of the concept proceeding from Mexico, where a plant with the same existed as an affix to wine. In definitive, there are an infinity of ideas and supposed stories which try and depict the exact origins of the word itself.

The first mention of the Word Cocktail in a book, was in The Balance and Columbian Repository, a newspaper published in Hudson, New York 1806. It appeared as a response to a question sent to the newspaper in which the reader had asked what a cocktail was. The editors described the concept as a stimulating liqueur composed with spirits, sugar, water and bitters.

Later on, in 1862, the famous barman Professor Jerry Thomas wrote a Cocktail recipe book which he named The Bon Vivan’ts Guide or How to Mix Drinks. He had been both a sailor and a barman in his younger years, until he managed to create his own fortune by travelling the world as a gold picker in the mountains. His new made wealth took him to New York where he mingled with the high society and made important connections. Once he had spent his fortune he decided to return to his previous bartender trade in various bars of Chicago and New York, in which time he created the Martínez (the origin of the Dry Martini) amongst other cocktails. Plenty other cocktails books followed, in which the Illustrated Bartender’s Manual by Harry Johnson in 1882 stands out.

Meanwhile, in Europe potions and mixes with medicinal intentions were a plenty, which was in fact, the concept of mixing alcohol. It wasn’t until the surge of big liquor and spirits producers that the chemical-gastrological inventions were sold on an industrial scale as cocktails, similar to those we know now.

Prohibition United States SpeakEasy Clandestine

The concept of mixing and drinking alcohol as a pleasure emerged from the United States. A new concept of drinking. The truth is that, before the prohibition, The United States was in fact living its peak in cocktail fashion. Sadly once alcohol consumption was declared illegal, the people that were smuggling the goods into the country were adding water to the liquid to reduce costs and boost their profits by importing less quantity. Gin and Vodka replaced rum and whiskey because they were easier to elaborate clandestinely. These factors were the determiners of lower quality spirits which influenced in the halt of all alcoholic and cocktail improvements.

Those bars in which people would drink clandestinely were called ‘Speakeasy’s’: small and secret bars that started opening all over the United States during the Prohibition.

Prohibition United States - Orange County Sheriff's deputies dumping illegal booze Santa_Ana 3-31-1932

Our Speakeasy Clandestine Back Room Restaurant in Barcelona shows respect to those illegal bars that emerged as secret escapades for Americans to enjoy a drink during the prohibition. Tale says that the name ‘Speakeasy’ came from barwomen that used to tell their customers to ‘Speak easy, boy, speak easy’ as to avoid police interference.

So if you’re intrigued we invite you to come and visit our secret portal, SpeakEasy Restaurant in Barcelona where you’ll feel privileged to enjoy a clandestine space in which the hours will roll by in a blink. Our storeroom still maintains that atmosphere that lulls between anonymity and the luxury of being hidden.

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the Dry Martini Universe