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The 13th May is an auspicious date in the cocktail calendar because it is World Cocktail Day! We couldn’t let this monumental day pass without delving slightly into the history of the cocktail.

It was on this day in 1806 that the first printed usage of the word cocktail appears. A New York State federalist newspaper The Balance and Columbian Repository, asked by a reader “what is a cocktail” gave the following explanation:

“A cock-tail, then, is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind—sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a Democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else.”

Some words of wisdom for our politicians perhaps – there’s no doubt a few cocktails would certainly liven up the current election campaign…!

For this reason we celebrate World Cocktail Day on the 13th May.

The word itself was originally used to describe a horse that had had its tail docked to indicate it was not thoroughbred. In this sense, it was applied to drinks that were no longer pure, in other words were mixed. Like so much in the history of cocktails though, there are many rival explanations for the etymology.

Another reason to celebrate world cocktail day on May 13th 1931 is that it is the anniversary of the opening of cocktail mecca Harry’s Bar in Venice. Harry’s is the birthplace of the Bellini, where it is still served. It is definitely a great choice for a cocktail to celebrate the day:

A pair of bellinis being made for world cocktail day

No better way to celebrate World Cocktail Day than with a delicious bellini

Bellini

15ml fresh peach purée
top with Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne (Prosecco is classic but why have cotton when you can have silk?!)

Serve in a flute with an optional strawberry garnish.