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Where did cocktails get their weird and wonderful names?

Daiquiri originates from a village of the same name in Cuba

The origin of the Daiquiri is simple – this cocktail gained its moniker from the village of the same name in south east Cuba. Reputedly the drink was invented in 1898 during the Spanish-American War when gin became hard to source in the Caribbean so was replaced with native rum.

Piña Colada’ is the Spanish term for ‘strained pineapple’ , reflecting the cocktail’s fruity base.

The Mojito takes its name from the Cuban-Spanish word for a citrus fruit sauce, ‘mojo’. Hence Mojito literally means a ‘little mojo’.

A classic Mint Julep is now known as a bourbon cocktail comprising of sugar, mint and lots of crushed ice which harks from the US Deep South. However the origin of the word ‘julep’ can be traced back to an ancient Arabic word ‘julab’ meaning sweet rose water.

There was a drink called a Manhattan long before the cocktail of that name but the Manhattan we know and love was reputedly invented for a reception in New York in the 1870s hosted by socialite Jennie Spencer-Churchill (formally known as Lady Randolf Churchill, mother of British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill).

The Bellini was created by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. He named the pinky-red-orange cocktail after 15th century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini who regularly used a similar shade in his paintings.

Supposedly created in 1944 by Victor J. Bergeron – better known as Trader Vic, one of the fathers of the Tiki movement in the US – the jury is out on whether the Mai Tai is actually based on an earlier cocktail recipe from Donn ‘Don the Beachcomber’ Beach. The name comes from the Tahitian word for ‘nice’ or ‘very good’.


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