Stories Behind Famous Cocktails
This very straightforward combination of vodka and orange juice has two very different but equally interesting back stories. One story is that oil riggers in the Persian Gulf in the 1950s would mix the two ingredients to take the edge off a long day at work. And that the name of the drink came from what they used to stir it with: the screwdriver! Another story goes that during the Prohibition, because alcohol was made underground and unregulated, it resulted in very poor quality booze. And to mask the awful taste, bartenders added fruit juices and other flavors and were able to offer a range of mixed drinks. Since alcohol was banned, people used “screwdriver” as a code word to mislead federal agents when they ordered drinks (since it just looked like juice). The vodka and orange juice combo quickly became the go-to “screwdriver” and the name stuck. LONG ISLAND ICED TEA – Looks and sounds innocent, but very lethal.
There are a few theories about how this drink came about. The interesting, less popular theory is that Long Island housewives created an innocent-looking beverage that they could drink in front of their friends and families without being judged. And it wasn’t noticeable that they were drinking a lot because they were just pilfering a single shot from each liquor bottle. Sneaky, yet very effective at giving you a great big buzz. HARVEY WALLBANGER – Watch your head
The name itself sounds dangerous. Not so much violent as it is a little reckless. Like this is what you drink when you are having one of those nights when you just want to have a bender and just say, “f#ck it.” Basically a Screwdriver with Galliano (anise) liqueur, this drink packs quite a punch. The story goes that sometime in the 1960s, there was a surfer named Harvey who wiped out pretty badly in a competition. He then proceeded to get his drink on (allegedly at Pancho’s Bar in Manhattan Beach), ordering a vodka and orange juice with Galliano. It could be because of the alcohol or frustration of losing, but it is said that he banged his head against the wall and the bartender then named the drink the Harvey Wallbanger. If you’re not careful, you might just bang your head against a wall. TOM COLLINS – The refreshing hoax
Next up on the people-named cocktails is the Tom Collins. You’d think this citrusy drink is named after some dude who made a fool of himself or a historical figure but the story is much more interesting than that. It owes its name to a 19th century hoax. In 1874, hundreds of New Yorkers were duped by bartenders into believing that there was a certain Tom Collins who was going around town saying bad things about the citizens of the Big Apple. Naturally, they were quite upset about the whole thing and sought to find the guy ruining their reputations. They were told that this slanderer could be found in another bar. The thing is, there wasn’t really a Tom Collins. The bartenders, with their wicked sense of humor, ran with the joke and made this drink so that when the people looking for Tom Collins asked for him, they would instead find a refreshing drink.
Two struggling products come together to unload their slow-moving merchandise and create a cocktail that even Oprah loves. Smirnoff’s John G. Martin and Jack Morgan of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products (ginger beer) combined the vodka and ginger beer for the first time in the early 1940s and it was a stroke of “inventive genius.” Morgan’s girlfriend owned a company that made copper mugs and suggested they use that to make the drink stand out. Booze + shiny mug = awesome cocktail combo. Martin went on the road armed with one of the first Polaroid cameras and took photos of bartenders posing with the copper mug and a bottle of Smirnoff. The photos got around and soon, everyone was raring to make the Mule so as not to be left behind in the trend. Sales of Smirnoff had more than tripled by 1950. There you have it, dear imbibers. Some stories behind our favorite cocktails. Follow me on Instagram @sanvicentegirl