I am familiar with the word "cocktail", meaning a mixture, and in particular, a mixed drink. But I'm unable to find any useful information about its origins. The Shorter OED simply says, "origin obscure".

Is there any evidence of early use and/or influences on the formation of the word?

Please include dates with your references, so that answers can be easily compared.

  • One supposed etymology is that the drinks were once served with a feather sticking out, sort of how one might use a cocktail umbrella.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 15, 2017 at 18:51
  • Toby, Did you try to google for "cocktail etymology" ? That gives me lots of articles including the etymonline.com one.
    – k1eran
    Mar 15, 2017 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


cocktail (n.) (from etymonline.com)

"First attested 1806; H.L. Mencken lists seven versions of its origin, perhaps the most durable traces it to French coquetier "egg-cup" (15c.; in English cocktay). In New Orleans, c. 1795, Antoine Amédée Peychaud, an apothecary (and inventor of Peychaud bitters) held Masonic social gatherings at his pharmacy, where he mixed brandy toddies with his own bitters and served them in an egg-cup. On this theory, the drink took the name of the cup. Used from 1920s of any mix of substances (fruit, Molotov). Cocktail party first attested 1928".


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.