The Chanticleer Society
A Worldwide Organization of Cocktail Enthusiasts

1800 to 1810

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First published by:
Robert Hess
on 7 Jan 2009
Last revision by:
Robert Hess
on 8 Jan 2009
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1800 to 1810

The 1800's mark the first sighting of the "cocktail" as a beverage in America. Thomas Jefferson becomes the third president of the United States, the Lewis and Clark expedition took place, and Ohio becomes a state.


The earliest known printed use of the word "cocktail," as determined by David Wondrich in October 2005, was from "The Farmer's Cabinet", April 28, 1803, p [2]:

"11. Drank a glass of cocktail — excellent for the head ... Call'd at the Doct's. found Burnham — he looked very wise — drank another glass of cocktail."


The earliest known "definition" of what a "cock tail" is was published in "The Balance and Columbian Repository" on May 13th, 1806. The editor, in responding to a query from a reader, provided the following definition (emphasis added):

"As I make it a point, never to publish anything (under my editorial head) but which I can explain, I shall not hesitate to gratify the curiosity of my inquisitive correspondent: Cock tail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else."

Popular drinks during this time:

  • grog (spirits and water; chiefly with rum, but also brandy)
  • sling (gin, brandy or rum with sugar, water and spice)
  • bitters
  • apple toddy (brandy with baked apple, sugar and water)
  • punch by the bowl (rum, brandy, arrack or whiskey with citrus juice; sugar; water, tea and/or wine and spice)
  • punch by the glass (see above, but smaller and simpler)
  • egg nogg (rum, brandy or whiskey with eggs, sugar, milk and spice)



  • "The Farmer's Cabinet", April 28, 1803,
  • "The Balance and Columbian Repository", May 6th, 1806
  • "The Balance and Columbian Repository", May 13th, 1806

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