What’s the Origin of the Word ‘Cocktail’?

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with a rooster—but it does have something to do with a horse. Type “origin of word cocktail” into your search engine and you may see a dictionary entry that explains the term cock-tailed originally described a horse with a docked (or clipped-short) tail, and “cock-tailed” became a sort of pejorative for racehorses without thoroughbred pedigrees—with mixed lineage, if you will. So the term may have come to be applied to alcoholic drinks that were similarly blended rather than pure spirits.

But that’s still not quite right. Keep reading for cocktail clarification.

We may never know precisely when the first cocktail was made or who invented it, and for a long time, the etymology of the term used to describe it—in the words of H. L. Mencken (who did an extensive research on the topic but in the end came up short)—was “quite as

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