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A Brief Look at 100 Years of Cocktail Trends

A lot has changed over the last 100 years. From bars to wine, the beverage world has evolved since 1917. Subsequently, so has the popularity and trendiness of certain mixed drinks and cocktails. Peek behind any bar and you’ll see what amounts to a museum of ingredients needed to create nearly every combination of cocktails from the past. Each decade, from Pre-Prohibition to the 21st century, has an iconic cocktail that reflects the culture and society of the era. Let’s take a look at some of the cocktail trends from the last 100 years.

1910’s – OLD FASHIONED

Appropriately named, an Old Fashioned is one of the most popular cocktails of all time. By adding sugar and bitters to improve the taste, the Old Fashioned was a common drink for many at the turn of the 20th century.

1920’s – PLANTER’S PUNCH

The Roaring Twenties were marred by inferior liquor during Prohibition. That’s why cocktails, mixed with sweeter flavors to mask the liquor’s taste, boomed, especially in speakeasies. Rum-runners brought rum to the U.S. from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, and it was one liquor that was easy to access throughout the decade. The drink itself consisted of dark rum, grenadine, pineapple juice, and a lemon for garnish.

1930’s – BLOODY MARY

Now a brunch favorite, the New York City-born Bloody Mary originally called for two ingredients – vodka and tomato juice. Thankfully, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, salt and pepper, and lemon juice were added to give the drink a more flavorful taste. Today’s Bloody Mary can sometimes be found with more than just a stalk of celery, but in the 1930’s, this did the trick.

1940’s – MAI TAI

The tiki drink gained notoriety, in California, not Hawaii, in the 1940s. The Mai Tai was so widely consumed that some say it depleted the world’s rum supplies in the 40’s and 50’s. While it might have been an exaggeration, it was certainly popular, especially in the post-World War II era. A classic Mai Tai features both light and dark rums, curacao, orgeat, and lime juice.

1950’s – MARTINI

Prior to the 1950’s, James Bond’s drink of choice was comprised of gin as its main ingredient, alongside dry vermouth and olives. However, a rise in interest in Russian vodka made the vodka version the Martini of choice in this decade.

1960’s – WHISKEY SOUR

Whiskey was king in the 1960’s, and the Whiskey Sour was the perfect companion to the Sixties culture. Usually made with bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar, whiskey sours are shaken and served on the rocks and garnished with a cherry and citrus wedge.

1970’s – HARVEY WALLBANGER

Prior to the 70’s, many cocktails involved one type of alcohol with a sweet mixer. Then the Harvey Wallbanger came along. Created with Galliano, an Italian liqueur, vodka, and orange juice, the Harvey Wallbanger spearheaded many new cocktail trends adding liqueur to traditional cocktail recipes.

1980’s – PIÑA COLADA

Do you like Piña Coladas? The 1980’s sure did. The cocktail, made up of rum, coconut milk or cream, and pineapple juice, is the national drink of Puerto Rico. However, its popularity skyrocketed in the 80’s with Rupert Holmes song, Escape (The Piña Colada Song).

1990’s – LONG ISLAND ICED TEA

This cocktail is similar to an iced tea in name alone. To some, a Long Island Iced Tea is like throwing the entire bar into one glass. A Long Island includes rum, vodka, gin, tequila, triple sec, sour mix, and topped off with a splash of cola. As you might expect, it packs a major punch.

2000’s – COSMOPOLITAN

It’s no coincidence that Cosmopolitan demand grew with the popularity of the early 2000’s television show, Sex and the City. With triple sec, vodka, cranberry juice, and lime juice, the Cosmo took off with every Carrie Bradshaw order in the new Millennium.

2010’s – OLD FASHIONED

Look who’s back! Pre-Prohibition drinks are as popular as ever in present-day bars, and the Old Fashioned leads the pack of cocktails witnessing a resurgence. 100 years have passed and not much has changed about the drink besides a twist of citrus. Perhaps the cocktail has Don Draper to thank for its revival.

Each decade over the last 100 years has an iconic cocktail to call its own. For bartenders, nothing is more iconic than the Tobin Ellis name. The Tobin Ellis Cocktail Station was created with an eye on the future of bartending, and the future is now. Watch the video testimonial to hear why bartenders love it.

tobin ellis cocktail station