10 Incredible Origin Stories Behind Famous Cocktails

Like any good recipe, sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint just who put it together first, and cocktails are no exception. Also, considering that bragging rights are involved, sometimes there are pretenders to the title. Here we examine 10 perennial favorites and their incredible beginnings.


One of the simplest drinks on this menu, consisting of vodka in orange juice, has a somewhat muddled history. It’s claimed that western workers in the Persian Gulf oilfields, who spiked their juice in secret and stirred it with their screwdrivers, first made this in the early 1950s. Others claim it goes back further, to the 1920s and Prohibition, and “screwdriver” was a code word to mislead federal agents.


Technically not a mixed drink but rather a deconstructed one, brandy is actually wine that has been reduced down to a concentrate. While it goes back to the 13th century, and considered medicinal, it was first mass-produced during the 1500s, so that wine could be condensed for transportation by ship (space was at a premium). But people liked the “burnt wine” (brandewijn in Dutch) better without adding all that water back in so it became a drink in its own right. Also known as cognac, but only when made in the Cognac region of France.