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The History of the Most Popular Cocktails

The History of the Most Popular Cocktails


Your drink order may come along with a side of fascinating history. Many of the world’s most popular cocktails have a story behind them and their unique names. Your favorite cocktail recipe may have an interesting past and origin story. These beloved cocktails have become a part of the culture and the social scene. Here are the stories behind the most popular drink orders.



One of the easiest cocktail recipes to memorize is the classic screwdriver. This refreshing cocktail combines two simple ingredients, orange juice and vodka. Despite its simplicity, the screwdriver does have an origin story that is noteworthy. This tasty drink is thought to be invented by oil workers stationed in the Persian Gulf in the middle of the 20th century. Before going out to their shift, they would add a little vodka to their orange juice. They were thought to use a screwdriver to stir their drink instead of a spoon, giving the cocktail its iconic name.

Moscow Mule

Another classic brew that has a distinctive origin story is the Moscow mule. To make a Moscow mule, you need to mix vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. After mixing, the drink should be served in a copper mug to keep it to temperature, according to Absolut Drinks. The drink was created in New York’s Chatham Hotel bar in 1941 by bartender Wes Price. He combined the bar’s surplus inventory of ginger beer and vodka to christen this tasty cocktail.


The margarita is a staple at Mexican restaurants and Cinco de Mayo parties. The actual inventor of the margarita is in dispute. One story has its inventor, Carlos “Danny” Herrera creating the drink in 1938 in Tijuana for a finicky dancer who didn’t like the taste of tequila by itself. Another tale has the drink being named after Dallas socialite Margarita Sames in 1948. Two other background stories also claim the drink was inspired by different women named Margarita.

White Russian

Despite its name, the white Russian doesn’t have any connection to Russia in its origin story. It’s made with vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream over ice. The drink hails from a Belgium bar in its capital of Brussels. In 1949, a bartender named Gustave Tops created the white Russian and the black Russian. He invented the drinks in honor of his friend Perle Mesta, the American ambassador to Luxembourg at the time.


The cosmopolitan got its biggest boost in popularity after being featured in HBO show Sex in the City. This pink drink served in a martini glass is a combination of vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec, and lime juice. Its sweetness hides a powerful punch with the amount of alcohol in it. There isn’t a clear consensus on who created this drink. Different accounts have it coming from New York City, South Beach, San Francisco, or Massachusetts.

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Old Fashioned

Not as common in the modern-day club and bar scene, the old-fashioned is a cocktail that exudes class and tradition. The recipe for the old-fashioned combines whiskey, water, bitters, muddled sugar, orange zest, and cherries. The history of the drink may have begun in a Kentucky gentlemen’s club, the Pendennis Club, in the late 19th century.


The birthplace of the legendary mojito is not in dispute, unlike other classic cocktails. The mojito was first crafted in Havana, Cuba. The recipe mixes white rum, sugar cane juice, mint, lime juice, and soda water. The recipe may have evolved from local South American Indians’ practice of using the ingredients as a healing drink and healing frequencies. Havana bar and restaurant La Bodeguita del Medio claims to be responsible for the modern recipe.


The next time you order your favorite cocktail at a bar or a restaurant, think about the history that created it. Many cocktails have a story behind them that helped birth today’s bar and drinking culture.

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