How Traditional Alcoholic Drinks Got Their Names

Host Dr. Erica Brozovsky, PhD of the PBS series Otherwords digs into the etymological origins explaining how alcoholic drinks got their names.

Alcohol has been with humanity since the dawn of civilization, and we use still use some of the same terms for it! Come with us on an etymological journey through the history of drinking.

This includes wine, ale, beer, lager, and spirits such as gin, rye, bourbon, Scotch whisky, tequila, and mezcal. She also explains why we use the word “cocktail” to describe a drink and “toast” for raising a glass.

Once you start mixing liquors with other beverages, the result is widely known as a cocktail, although no one is certain why. One theory refers to a 19th century New Orleans socialite who served mixed drinks in egg cups, known in French as coquetiers. Another suggests it’s named after a horse’s tail that has been cut short…Now that everyone has the drink they ordered, it’s time to raise our glasses for a toast. …There was an archaic tradition of adding a small piece of charred bread into your wine …Since this was typically done on festive occasions, you can imagine it to be the perfect moment to say something special.

Where Alcoholic Drinks Got Their Names
Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.