What is cocktail culture?
The Oxford Dictionary defines Cocktail Culture as “a culture or lifestyle in which drinking cocktails, or going to cocktail parties or cocktail bars, is a habitual social activity.”
A Brief History of Cocktails
First Golden Age of Bartending
The first golden age of bartending was in the late 19th Century around 1885, when bartenders were using fresh ingredients, fancy liqueurs and homemade flavoured sugar syrups to make great quality cocktails. Being a bartender was a well respected profession. It was not an industry were every other person who could pour a dram was called a bartender, it took a great deal of knowledge, expertise and professionalism.
This golden age lasted up until the ban of alcohol production, sale and consumption (prohibition) was ratified on the 16th of January 1919. The idea of prohibition failed dismally, making something that people perceived as harmless and fun, illegal. It worked against the government as it fueled a secretive binge drinking culture. Illegal saloons also known as speakeasies (cops were always on patrol, when you entered you were asked to remain quiet and speakeasy) where serving people alcohol that was distilled in basements were quality and fine points of taste were not a concern. One of the biggest problems with prohibition besides the terrible quality of alcohol was that the majority of the skilled American bartenders decided to practice their profession overseas. America lost its quality alcohol and bartenders.
Tiki Cocktails and the Dark Times
During prohibition people were travelling to the Caribbean a lot. During this time people got a taste and an appreciation for rum and rum based cocktails.
Once prohibition was lifted, Donn the Beachcomber and Trader Vic were the two people most responsible for the Tiki movement during the 1940’s and 50’s. Tiki is defined as being designed around Polynesian pop culture, using Rum, fresh juices, homemade syrups and spices to make great quality cocktails.
The Dark Times
Going into the 60’s and 70’s the cocktail culture was on a steady decline due to a complete disregard for fresh ingredients and homemade quality. It went towards what was easiest, quick and hassle free. Bartenders were also making super sweet, overly colourful drinks. Cocktails had gone from being classy, elegant and prestigious to pretty much sweet and really poor quality. This with the new style ‘cocktails’ being brightly coloured and sweet obviously created a stereotype that cocktails are for “ladies”. To all those reading this, congratulations for not having an insecure mentality that cocktails are for ladies only. Before prohibition it was the “MEN” drinking cocktails in stemmed glassware.
The Current Golden Age of Cocktails
The New Good Times
The 1990’s was the turning point where bartenders like Dale Degroff of the Rainbow Room in New York or Dick Bradsell of Dicks bar in London were using fresh ingredients and home made syrups. They, amongst some other professionals, were churning out well made classics with good quality ingredients. We are 100% in the new golden age of bartending. Cocktails are constantly on the rise and bartenders are pushing boundaries further than ever.
Our cocktail culture course is proof of this!
To embrace the new golden age of cocktails we’ve designed a course for you to take at home, to learn about to make delicious, easy and great quality cocktails!
Find out more here!