Why are soft drinks, such as lemonade etc., called soft drinks?
This made me think of why hard drinks are alcoholic. I have found that
is probably the origin of hard liquor.
liquor: Narrowed sense of "fermented or distilled drink" (especially wine) first recorded c.1300. To liquor up "get drunk" is from 1845.
Hard meaning intoxicating, spiritous, 'strong'" sense, surprisingly, dates at least from 1879 (see edit below supporting its earlier use), from Boston Times about someone brought up on charges:
For Australia and New Zealand, it's recorded in 1890.
As for soft, "of beverages, non-alcoholic, non-spiritous," there is a citation from 1880 in the OED online, and a quote from 1891 by a brigade commander, General Robinson, that of the "Canteen" or "Post Exchange" system.
There is a British Soft Drinks History devoted to soft drinks. They state that soft was first described as small, and note that a tombstone of 1764 records
Edited to note: StonyB has found an 1843 book (British?) with a very interesting phrase. While reflecting on the perils of idleness, Luke Hansard states that two men could be persuades to fight (for entertainment) by use of "soft sawder" (which actually means flattery) and hard liquor. So clearly, hard for strong alcoholic beverages was in use by the early 1840s. To StonyB: Great find!
I have found this article about the origin of the name:
Because beverage that contain alcohol are "hard" drinks.
Consider hard cider: