If we follow the lineage of a classic cocktail we serve in bars today, we can invariably trace it back to a different concoction, or the family of drinks that inspired it. Very few of the great classics have a precise invention moment, they are an accumulation of tried and tested ideas, refined and perfected by bartenders through the ages. So, conversations about the origins of classics will always evoke a bit of conjecture from the purists. Still, it’s a fun way to talk about where a drink comes from, since stories of the past and people who served these drinks always engage the customers and enable bartenders to think about flavour and inspire modern interpretations.
Take the Martini, arguably the king of cocktails, and a perfect example. Some attribute the Martini creation to the Martinez, served up in the early 1800s. The Martinez would sit in a family of drinks called ‘bittered slings’ – see pink gin or indeed the Old Fashioned, popularised during the early 19th century. But the bittered sling itself follows on from the slings, a family of drinks that date further back to the 18th century, and include juleps, gimlets and sours. Meanwhile the slings are predated by the punch, which dates all the way back to the 17th century.
All of this is pretty confusing when you read it in a block of text. So, in a bid to simplify the story, and at the same time provide inspiration on your menu, we’ve created a lovely infographic for you. This cocktail family tree follows the journey of the cocktail to the point of the Daiquiri, but also some of the twists on drinks and their relatives, which might help inspire your own interpretations and spins on existing drinks.