People have been mixing drinks pretty much. There were drinks archeologists discovered the tomb of king Midas who was buried in Western Turkey around 800 BC and among the remains of the funeral banquet, they found clay juga when they analyzed. What was left in them turned out to be a mixture of wine and barley-based beer and honey wine and even spices and fruits so this is an ancient ProCocktails but the art of mixing drinks didn’t really get any urgency to it until distilled spirits became popular. As you know, they can be harsh and fiery and you need to do something to calm them down. The first popular mixed drink with booze in it, with liquor is called punch and this goes back to around 1600 BC. It was either an English invention or an Indian Invention but the way it spread to the rest of the world was from English sailors and merchants who found themselves in India Spice trading in the early 1600s and they brought it back home with them and it became a sailor’s drink. Sailors would always drink it by the bowl and they’d pass it around the officer’s ward at the end of the day.
It spreads to the English upper classes and they kept making this punch and it was a very simple drink, usually some kind of sugar cane spirit or brandy grape spirit with citrus juice or lime water and spice. Then it spreads to the American colonies where rum, the basic ingredient was much cheaper and citrus was much more available and it became one of the great drinks in America in the 1700s. The art of mixing drinks in America was pretty much the same as it was in Britain.
Then came the revolution and Americans started to go their own way as one of the earliest sign is a drink called sling which is widely popular all up and down eastern seaboard which was indeed the whole of America at the time and sling is simply a rum or gin or brandy or whiskey in frontier with some sugar or water or maybe a grating of nutmeg. Not an intoxicating though but one of the problems with getting intoxicating is you get a hangover so at some point, somebody took that sling and it must have been around 1790s. But we’re not sure as the history of ProCocktails is history that happens in a bar.
But some point, somebody took this sling and put in a dash of medicinal bitters, making it bitter sling, the bitters were just basically alcohol with roots and spices to make stomach feel better to help your system. So, this bitter sling soon acquired a slang name and we first heard about this in 1803 in a New Hampshire newspaper when it talks about having a cocktail in the morning to cure a hangover.
The most famous ProCocktails bars were in hotels in places like Hoffman house in New York, the Waldorf Astoria in New York and the palace in San Francisco. These places were temples of mixology and it was truly the last of a golden age.