Since there have been so many virginity questions here lately, I have another one. As a former bartender-type, I often hear the term virgin, when relating to non-alcoholic drinks. Unfortunately, search engines are overwhelmed by click-bait slideshows like "20 virgin drinks that will rock your world" and "25 bar terms you need to know!"

EDIT: some additional research:

Upon having further time to research, I discovered these early usages:

Out West - Google Books

It refers to Mah-que-be, a

secret brew of herbs which is supposed to fortify..against snake poison

In the Quarterly Review of Literature , 1964

now sweet words went to their heads like a virgin drink of spirits

Doesn't really answer my question, however

I can see a relation between a virgin (usually referring—albeit not exclusively—to young children) and non-alcoholic drinks, but I ask:

What is the history of the relationship between virgin and non-alcoholic?

  • 2
    It has not been adulterated with alcohol?
    – TRomano
    Dec 1, 2015 at 17:53
  • EVOO is non-alcoholic.
    – Greg Lee
    Dec 2, 2015 at 20:00

2 Answers 2


It may be an extension of Virgin Mary, which is straight tomato juice (as opposed to a Bloody Mary, which has vodka). OED cites usages going back to the mid-1970s, under its entry for virgin:

Virgin Mary n. [after Bloody Mary n.] chiefly U.S. a glass of tomato juice

1976 W. Goldman Magic ii. 90 Some girl wanted a Virgin Mary. The waiter nodded.

1977 J. Philips Five Roads to Death i. 11 A waitress approached the table. ‘A Virgin Mary... A Bloody Mary without the vodka.’

1981 T. Heald Murder at Moose Jaw ix. 103 Crombie ordered himself a straight tomato juice with..Worcester. The Colonel did not, Bognor noted with approval, refer to the drink as ‘a Virgin Mary’.

Once a Virgin Mary had been established (as a pun of sorts) from Bloody Mary, it's not hard to imagine how, say, virgin daiquiri would have followed.

I don't know if the term goes back further than that.

  • I do appreciate the research. According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Mary_(cocktail) bloody mary was coined in 1921, and I am having some difficulty believing that it took 50+ years for the word 'virgin' to start appearing before it. Dec 2, 2015 at 13:47
  • 1
    @USER_8675309 - I'm a bit surprised by the apparent timeline, too, but the OED is pretty good about citing very early usages. (For example, in the same entry, one meaning of virgin is "Employed for the first time," and four example usages are cited; the earliest is from 1627 and the latest is from 1839. One of them cites "his virgin sword Ægysthus", from a 18th-century translation of Homer's Odyssey.) Maybe it took until the 1970's before society felt comfortable naming a drink after a figure so revered by the Catholic church? It might have been regarded as too much for their virgin ears.
    – J.R.
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:40
  • found a reference to a virgin daiquiri in 1963 -- books.google.com/… Dec 2, 2015 at 19:42
  • 1
    @USER_8675309 - Nice bit of detective work. I like the research – and the drink.
    – J.R.
    Dec 2, 2015 at 20:23

I think the original virgin cocktail was the Virgin Mary, created as an alternative to the Bloody Mary but without Vodka. Bloody Mary refers to Mary I of England, so I guess it made sense to name the alternative after another, gentler historical Mary.

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