Around the World in 8 Cocktails: The Origins of Famous Mixed Drinks


Whether you like your drinks sweet, savoury, or palpably alcoholic, there is a cocktail to suit you. Versions of the cocktail have been around for centuries, and many myths and legends surround the creation of the most famous cocktail menu entries. The first documentation of the cocktail can be found in the 20 March 1798 edition of London’s The Morning Post and Gazetteer newspaper, and the exciting concoctions have been popular ever since. Come with us on a trip around the world of cocktails to learn a little more about where your favourite might have come from.


margarita cocktail mexican

Origin: Mexico

50% Tequila
30% Cointreau
20% Fresh lime juice

Can be served with or without a salt rim

Little Known Facts: No one knows who invented the Margarita, although there are several stories about people laying claim to this delicious, zingy cocktail. The earliest mention of a tequila cocktail goes to G. F. Steele in ‘My Cocktail Book’, published in 1930. In 1937, William J. Tarling mentioned a drink called a Picador in his ‘Café Royal Cocktail Book’, which contains tequila, Cointreau and lime juice. American Socialite Margaret ‘Margarita’ Sames claimed she invented the Margarita cocktail at one of her wild parties in 1948 at her Acapulco holiday home. However, by 1945 Jose Cuervo was already running ad campaigns featuring the Margarita, so this story may not be that credible. All we know is, sometime between tequila being mixed with Cointreau and lime in the 1930s and 1945 the delicious sour-sweet tequila cocktail had been christened the Margarita.

Mai Tai

cocktail mai tai california

Origin: California, USA

45ml Aged Jamaican rum
15ml Orgeat syrup
15ml Triple Sec
30ml Fresh lime juice
Serve over crushed ice and garnish

Little Known Facts: As with many cocktails, there are rival stories about who invented this toothsome tropical cocktail. Victor Bergeron, aka ‘Trader Vic’, claims to have created the first Mai Tai in 1944, in honour of some friends who were visiting from Tahiti. Upon serving his new concoction to his friends, they cried out ‘Maitai roa!’, which means ‘very good’ – and so the Mai Tai was born. Rivalling this claim is Donn Beach, founding father of tiki bars, who claims to have invented the first Mai Tai in 1933 for the opening of his Hollywood restaurant. Whoever the creator was, both men had a leading role in the drink’s huge popularity by selling them prolifically at their successful restaurant chains.


mojito cocktail cuba

Origin: Cuba

40ml White rum
30ml Fresh lime juice
6 Sprigs of mint
2tsp Sugar
Soda Water

Muddle the ingredients well before adding the soda

Little Known Facts: The Mojito is often credited with being the world’s oldest cocktail, and was originally supped by sailors in the 16th century. Legend has it the drink was created to cover up the hard taste of early forms of rum and called the ‘El Draque’ in honour of the Elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drake. The modern name likely came from a Cuban sauce called mojo, which is made from garlic, olive oil, and citrus juice, and is a reference to the drink’s main ingredient of lime. Far from its ‘pirate-y’ roots, it is now popularly enjoyed as a refreshing drink on hot summer days.

Piña Colada

pina colada mixed drinks

Origin: Puerto Rico

20% White rum
20% Coconut milk
60% Pineapple Juice

Little Known Facts: Whilst drinks that mixed rum and pineapple juice existed in the 19th century, the modern Pina Colada wasn’t born until after the invention of coconut cream in 1948. Long-serving bartender Ramon ‘Monchito’ Marrero Perez claims to have created the drink for the Caribe Hilton Hotel, Puerto Rico in 1954 after being asked to create a drink that captured the flavours of the island. However, Spaniard Ricardo Garcia, who also worked at the hotel, claims that he was the first one to serve the drink, as an improvisation during the coconut-cutters union strike. Whoever it was, legend has it that Joan Crawford tried the hotel’s delicious concoction and declared it ‘better than slapping Bette Davis in the face’, so it was a success.


caipirinha cocktail drinks

Origin: Brazil

50ml Cachaça
Half a lime
2tsp Sugar
Cut a lime into four wedges and garnish

Little Known Facts: Thought to have originated in Sao Paulo, this bold cocktail is the national drink of Brazil. No one is sure how it came into being, although some believe that it was prepared as medicine in WWI to ease the effects of Spanish Flu. The original recipe included cachaça, green lemon, honey and garlic to deliver vitamin C to the system quickly. At some point, the honey and garlic were replaced with sugar and ice to create a rejuvenating drink rather than a healing remedy.


daiquiri cocktail flavours

Origin: Cuba

50% White rum
30% Lime juice
20% Simple syrup

Little Known Facts: First created sometime around the turn of the 20th century, the Daiquiri was likely named after the town of the same name in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. One story suggests that Jennings Stockton Cox, having moved to Cuba to capitalise on the rich iron mines, was entertaining guests and ran out of gin. As he had built up a generous stock of local rum, he served that instead but mixed it with lime juice and sugar so as not to expose his refined guests to straight rum. The resulting mixed drink was named after the nearest town.

Cuba Libre

world drinks cuba libre

Origin: Cuba

120ml Coca-Cola
50ml White rum
10ml Fresh lime juice

Little Known Facts: Perhaps more commonly known to me and you as a rum and coke, this classic combination is older than you might think. Legend has it that it was created when the American forces brought a supply of Coca-Cola with them when they arrived to fight the war for Cuban independence. In 1900, whilst celebrating victory at an American Bar in Havana, a US army captain ordered Bacardi with Coke and lime, toasting ‘Por Cuba Libre!’ when other soldiers followed suit. No one is sure if this happened, but Bacardi famously immortalised the story in an advertising campaign, forever branding the Cuba Libre as the ‘original cocktail of freedom’.


manhattan homemade drinks

Origin: New York, USA

50ml Rye whiskey
20ml Sweet red vermouth
Dash Angostura bitters

Stir with ice until your hand aches, strain into a martini glass, garnish with a maraschino cherry

Little Known Facts: Often called the ‘Drinking Man’s Cocktail’, this potent drink is thought to have been created at the Manhattan Club, New York, in the early 1870s. Lady Randolph Churchill was hosting a banquet in honour of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden and had the drink created for the occasion. The success of the banquet made the cocktail fashionable in powerful circles, causing people to request ‘the Manhattan cocktail’ they had enjoyed at the club.

If you want to taste some of these delicious cocktails in the country where they originated, why not book one of Cruise1st Australia’s fantastic cruise deals that stop there? Browse the full range online, or call our friendly team on 1300 857 345.



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