Cheers! Tracing the History of Classic Cocktails

People have been mixing drinks to suit their tastes for centuries. In fact, many of the most popular and well known drinks requested by bar patrons today were first created by bartenders decades ago. Ever wonder about the history behind these classic cocktails? Being able to explain the origin of a mixed drink makes for great conversation with your patrons. The origin of many popular cocktails remains elusive, often with multiple sources claiming credit. Others can be traced back to a particular mixologist or bar. While several cocktails have more stories about their origins than ingredients in the actual drink, here are a few we can help pinpoint for you:

  1. Long Island Iced Tea – The history of the Long Island Iced Tea is easy to trace back to, you guessed it, Long Island! This drink was first whipped up by bartender Robert “Rosebud” Butt at the Oak Beach Inn in the mid-1970s (Chow, Wikipedia).
  2. Piña Colada – The official drink of Puerto Rico, made famous by Rupert Holmes’ song “Escape” (more commonly known as the ‘Piña Colada Song’), and most likely created by one of two individuals who claim credit (Chow). Depending on which account you believe, the tropical cocktail was either created by Ramon Monchito Marrero Pérez in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton, or across town by Don Ramón Portas Migot in 1963. You can read the Puerto Rico Herald’s article, “A Caribbean Tale of Two Piña Coladas,” and decide for yourself.
  3. The Mojito – This drink is popular once again, and while the exact origin can’t be confirmed, all are in agreement that its origin can be traced to Cuba, and may have first showed up around 400 years ago (Chow, Wikipedia, Bacardi). The mojito may have been popular in Cuba for many years, but perhaps its most famous fan was writer Ernest Hemingway who helped make the drink, and the Cuban bar La Bodeguita del Medio, popular among the masses.

The origin of some cocktails has become the stuff of tall tales and legends, but it certainly makes for good material to debate. What is your favorite classic drink recipe?


© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Are Your Happy Hour Deals Falling Flat? New Ideas to Boost Your Bar Sales

It’s a problem common to many restaurants and bars; after a stellar opening and a few months in the limelight, sales start to fall flat. There are many reasons why establishments can see a sales dip – increased competition, shifting tastes and attitudes of patrons, tired selections and décor, etc. Deborah Harris of Bar Business Magazine recently tackled this very problem in the article, “When Sales Grow Stale – Innovate!

TAM ® of Nevada agrees wholeheartedly with her advice to start thinking outside of the box to reinvigorate sales, motivate staff and get customers talking about your bar again. You can read the full article here. Some of our favorite suggestions included:

Mixology is becoming increasingly popular, and lots of patrons want to feel like bartending aficionados. Offer guidance, but let customers get involved in their drink selection. Offer a selection of glasses, liquors, and mixes, and let them mix and match their order to create something that suits their taste.

Try a tasting table or spirits sampler. Let your guests pick and choose from a selection of spirits to sample, and provide logoed tasting card. This way they can take down notes on which drinks they enjoyed, and they’ll have a reminder that it was your establishment they enjoyed it at.

Sometimes it’s tough to break old habits and get out of a rut, but hard work and creative thinking can pay off big for your business. What types of sales strategies or deals have you implemented with success?


When Sales Grow Stale – Innovate! – Bar Business Magazine

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada