A little libation history lesson plus ships that serve them free

By Patti Pietschmann, Travel Diva


Origin of cocktails Bar on RSSC Mariner

One of the pleasures of cruising, let’s face it is drinking. This is especially true on those lines that include adult beverages. But no matter the cost, passengers do like to imbibe.

There are sail away drinks on deck,  at Captains Cocktail parties, in bars, lounges and private gatherings in guest rooms. Every tippler has his favorite but few are aware of  its origin.  So we did some digging so next time you order up you will know the history of your drink.

Here you go

  1. Sidecar (A refreshing drink that goes down well before dinner).

Not as popular as it once was, there’ a possibility the sidecar  comes from a  World War I  American Army captain who frequented Buck’s Club in London. He was often driven around the city in a motorcycle sidecar.

       2. Martini (Most appreciated at a ship’s bar before dinner.
History of cocktails

Whether  you like it stirred or shaken a martini is usually made with gin or vodka plus a dab of vermouth. True purists place vermouth around  the rim.  It is said the name is derived from the use of  Martini & Rossi’s vermouth in its initial development.

       3. Bellini (Best served at the pool or during brunch).

This drink is popular in Italy where Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Venice’s famous Harry’s Bar first served it.  It features a color similar to ones in paintings by the Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini.

Minty drinks

        4. Mint Julep (You don’t see too many of these on cruise ships).

Mint Juleps conjure up thoughts of sitting on the verandah of an antebellum home or at the Kentucky Derby. The name reflects a cocktail of bourbon whiskey and sometimes brandy.

          5. Mojito (A younger generation favorite).

Mojitos were popularized by millenniums. It’s origins are unclear. However Oxford English Dictionary says the name comes from mojo, the Spanish name of a Cuban sauce or marinade made with citrus fruit—a mojito means a “little mojo.”


          6. Daiquiri (Not as popular as once but frozen and banana ones go great on ships).

The daiquiri tastes like a mojito. It’s name comes from the village of Daiquiri on the far southeast coast of Cuba. There’s a possibility that the daiquiri’s genesis starts with  American mining engineers around the time of the Spanish-American War when they ran out of gin and had to use the local rum instead.

            7.  Margarita (A favorite poolside libation)

Ole, legend has it that this  national drink of Mexico  was created for Marjorie King, a former Broadway dancer and daughter of a former German ambassador to Mexico.

Sophisticated sipping

            8. Manhattan (Best enjoyed at the bar or lounge on a ship).

Those will take a Manhattan will enjoy a few suppositions of its origins.  Some say it was specially invented for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolf (mother of Winston) Churchill at the trendy Manhattan Club in New York in the late 1800s.

             9.  Rob Roy (You don’t see a lot of orders for this one but it has its fans).

A Rob Roy is like a Manhattan made with Scotch rather than Canadian whisky.  Its history goes back to  New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1894 during a celebration of  the Broadway premiere of an operetta loosely based on the life of the Scottish folk hero Rob Roy.

            10. Old Fashioned (A popular drink of seniors, and a favorite of my folks).

This  popular drink  of the late 1800s came to be to introduce liqueurs into cocktail recipes.  It contains a  classic mix of whiskey and bitters which became known as an “old fashioned” cocktail.

           11. Tom Collins (Tall drink to sip on deck).

Tom Collins cocktails date back to a 19th century headwaiter known as John Collins–a barkeep at  Limmer’s Hotel and Coffee House. According to one Internet source, the Tom part may also have been influenced by an 1874 hoax often perpetrated at bars.

           12.  Mai Tai (Almost synonymous with Tahiti but…)

I didn’t realize that the Mai Tai was born a California bar in the 1940s, did you? I always thought it was Polynesian. However the word  maitai means “good” or “nice” in Tahitian.

Party favorites

           13. Pina Colada (A pool bar favorite on most ships).

Piña colada means “strained pineapple” in Spanish, a reference to the drink’s fruity base.

           14. Singapore Sling (Think Raffles Hotel).

The only time I ever had one of these was in Singapore where it originated in the early 1900s at the famous Raffles Hotel—where I had it at the bar.

          15. Mimosa (Nothing goes better with oj than champagne at the poolside bar or during brunch or lunch on the ship).

While I personally prefer a Kir Imperial, this alternative Champagne cocktail’s name comes from the mimosa plant. A favorite cruise ship and brunch drink it consists of orange juice and bubbly. It’s often available on airlines and usually with some plunk sparkling wine.

         16.  Screwdriver  (Great way to begin a day on a cruise ship with breakfast).

The story goes that the screwdriver is decades old and that  American oil workers in the Persian Gulf discreetly laced their orange juice with vodka and used a screwdriver to stir it.

 17. Negroni (A chic cocktail)Origin of cocktails

It’s kind of chic to sip this mixture of Compari and gin, which can also be made with vodka. Legends have it that the Negroni made its debut at Caffe Casoni in Florence, Italy in 1919.

The story goes that Count Camillo Negroni asked his friend, bartender Forsco Scarselli, to strengthen his  Americano with a hit of with a hit of gin.

On the right is a Negroni from a Seabourn cruise by the ever popular barkeep, Martin.

    18. Harvey Wallbanger (Watch out this can pack a wallop).

Years ago on a Princess Cruise this writer and friends sat at a bar consuming copious amounts of Harvey Wallbangers. OMG what hangovers. Anyhow, the story  goes that this 1970s drink—made with vodka, orange juice, and Galliano— takes it origin from a  Los Angeles bartender Donato “Duke” Antone’s Blackwatch bar, for a surfer named Tom HarveyHarvey supposedly got so drunk he started running into the walls, ergo the name.

And last, but not least

   19.  Long Island Iced Tea (wow didn’t know this and I used to go there).

Robert “Rosebud” Butt takes credit for inventing the Long Island iced tea  for an entry in a contest to create a new mixed drink with triple sec in 1972  at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island, New York. The OBI was a popular teen hangout.

   20.   Zombie (Fruity tiki cocktail).

You can credit a bartender at the iconic “Don The Beachcomber” in Hollywood, California for this strangely named tiki drink. The ingredients include  lime, lemon, and pineapple juices, passion fruit syrup, Angostura bitters, brown sugar, and three different types of rum (light, dark, and 151-proof).

Where the adult beverages flow free

More ships will be serving free drinks when they resume operations. Among them are Crystal, Silversea, Seabourn, Celebrity, Regent Seven Seas,  and Oceania.

Thirsty for a cocktail-soaked cruise? Contact a Pavlus agent to quench it.

Please follow and like us: