History of Five Classic American Cocktails

The Hotel Seymour Supperclub is known throughout Seymour, WI for its classic cocktails. Enjoy an American cocktail before trying our diverse menu or while listening to live music. All these classic cocktails offer interesting history that keeps them well-known today. Here are the stories of five of them:

  • The martini: The original martini was called the “Martinez,” and was invented in San Francisco in 1862. It was allegedly created by “Professor” Jerry Thomas, who supposedly made the drink first for a gold miner traveling to Martinez. The original contained four parts sweet red vermouth, one part gin, a dash of bitters and a cherry garnish. Modern iterations may be made with gin or vodka and a splash of dry vermouth. There are also new varieties using fruit liquors and flavored vodka.
  • The mint julep: This has been the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938. That year, the Derby served mint juleps in souvenir glasses, and now, 80,000 of these drinks are produced over the two-day event. However, it was actually invented in Virginia in 1803. It used any available spirit, but mainly rum or rye whiskey, with a few mint leaves, and was consumed as a morning pick-me-up. Now, it is primarily bourbon, water, sugar and mint.
  • The old fashioned: While offered with a whiskey base, the old fashioned can also be created from brandy, bourbon or scotch. It was originally known as the whiskey cocktail, but a bartender at the Pendennis Club in Louisville had an opportunity to reinvent it. A patron entered the bar and asked for a drink without whiskey, as he did not like it. Mortified that this patron did not enjoy the prevailing liquor in the area, the bartender created a combination of sugar, water, bourbon, bitters and lemon garnish. When the customer asked what it was, he replied, “old fashioned.” The name stuck, as did the popularity of this cocktail.
  • The Manhattan: Named for the Manhattan Club, this popular concoction has many possible origins. Some say that Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother, was the first to enjoy this drink. Others say it was one of five “borough cocktails” at the club and Lady Churchill made it famous. The original recipe is two parts sweet vermouth to one part whiskey with three dashes of bitters. It is served over ice, or shaken and served with a lemon and cherry. In Wisconsin, we also make brandy Manhattans, as there is more brandy consumed in the state of Wisconsin than in the rest of the states combined!
  • The Sazerac: The claim for fame with this one is that many believe it is actually the first cocktail invented in the United States. First served in 1830 at the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, it contained cognac or brandy, Peynaud’s bitters, Herbsaint and absinthe. It is a staple at the Sazerac Bar at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans, and in 2008, it was declared the official cocktail of Louisiana by the state legislature.

Hotel Seymour Supperclub is located in a historic building in Seymour, WI. Visit us today to enjoy fine dining and classic American cocktails.

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