Cocktails were originally a mixture of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. It is now often used for almost any mixed drink that contains alcohol, including mixers, mixed shots, etc. A cocktail today usually contains one or more kinds of spirit and one or more mixers, such as soda or fruit juice. Additional ingredients may be sugar, honey, milk, cream, and various herbs.
The origin of the word cocktail is disputed.
The first recorded use of the word cocktail is found in The Morning Post and Gazetteer in London, England on March 20, 1798:
The first recorded use of the word cocktail in the United States is said to be in The Farmer's Cabinet on April 28, 1803:
The word cocktail, according to the Oxford English dictionary, lists the word originating in the U.S.
A definition of cocktail appeared in the May 13, 1806, edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository, a publication in Hudson, New York, in which an answer was provided to the question, "What is a cocktail?". It replied:
Compare the ingredients listed (spirits, sugar, water, and bitters) with the ingredients of an Old Fashioned, which originated as a term used by late 19th century bar patrons to distinguish cocktails made the “old-fashioned” way from newer, more complex cocktails.
An alcoholic beverage is a drink and psychoactive drug containing ethyl alcohol which is commonly referred to as ethanol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes for taxation and regulation of production: beers, wines, and spirits (or distilled beverage). They are legally consumed in most countries with over 100 countries having laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption. The production and consumption of alcohol occurs in most cultures of the world, from hunter-gatherer peoples to nation-states. Alcohol is widely available, with beer being the third most popular drink overall in the world, after water and tea.