Back in the 1950s there was a legendary mixologist named Antone ‘Duke’ Donato. Working at the Black Watch cocktail lounge on Sunset Boulevard in LA, Duke invented a drink which was looking for a name. A local surfer named Harvey Dale would often come in and sample Duke’s new concoction, often over- enthusiastically, which caused him to stumble into the bar’s walls. A legend was born.
Sling is a general name for any sweetened and flavoured drink made from a spirit base. The Singapore Sling was invented in the early 1900s at the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore by an acclaimed barman named Ngiam Tong Boon. The hotel is still there. Sadly, Mr Boon is long gone.
Jack Morgan, then owner of Hollywood’s famous British pub the Cock and Bull, had launched his own brand of ginger beer, but nobody really liked it. Working out a way of getting rid of the stock of ginger beer became a challenge to head barman Wes Price who mixed vodka, lime, ginger beer and bitters – and this famous cocktail was born.
Just after the World War 2, at the end of the 1940s, a group of American engineers were working in the oilfields of Turkey. The days were long and hot, and the work was hard. To gain some well-earned –but forbidden by their employers– respite the engineers would secretly add vodka to their orange juice and use their screwdrivers to stir their illicit drink.
This rum-based cocktail was created in northern California by Trader Vic (or Victor Bergeron as his mum knew him). One night in 1944 he tested his new drink on two friends from Tahiti. After just one sip one of the pals exclaimed “mai tai-roa ae!” which, translated from Tahitian, means “out of this world – the best!” Not a bad call.
One of Italy’s most famous cocktails, it is the colour of this sparkling wine and pureed peach drink that gave rise to its name. Invented in 1948 by Guiseppe Cipriani, head barman of Harry’s Bar in Venice, the shade of pink reminded him of a saint’s toga in a painting by Giovanni Bellini!
In the winter of 1943 Joe Sheridan, chef at Foynes Airport near Limerick, Ireland, took pity on some cold, weary travellers waiting for their Transatlantic flight. The story goes that a silence descended as everyone enjoyed this delectable concoction. Hey Buddy,” said a surprised American passenger, “Is this Brazilian coffee?” “No,” said Joe, “that’s Irish Coffee.”