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What is a "cocktail"

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I thought I knew the answer, but I think I may not. The review competition this weekend says to make a cocktail to review along with any vigar. However, I see lots of beer, straight bourbon etc and only a small handful of what I would consider to be a cocktail. Am I overthinking this or did anyone else notice this too?

 

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Quietly thought similarly.  Years ago, I was told be a super-know-it-all that a cocktail was, by definition, a spirit, something sweet, and bitters of some kind.  Seemed like a very rigid definition but I looked it up in my old Savoy book and the guy was basically right.  So a Manhattan is a cocktail (whiskey, vermouth, bitters) but that means that the way I make my martini (gin, vermouth, no bitters) technically wouldn’t be one.  

 

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16 minutes ago, Wailbait said:

Quietly thought similarly.  Years ago, I was told be a super-know-it-all that a cocktail was, by definition, a spirit, something sweet, and bitters of some kind.  Seemed like a very rigid definition but I looked it up in my old Savoy book and the guy was basically right.  So a Manhattan is a cocktail (whiskey, vermouth, bitters) but that means that the way I make my martini (gin, vermouth, no bitters) technically wouldn’t be one.  

 

Wikipedia states: A cocktail is an alcoholic mixed drink, which is either a combination of spirits, or one or more spirits mixed with other ingredients such as fruit juice, flavored syrup, or cream. Oxford dictionary is a little more lenient. I agree with wikipedia.

There should be any "mixology" other than water, IMHO. Something sweet not necessary. Straight out of the bottle neat or with an ice cube is just a Bourbon, Rum, Scotch or whatever. If I was at a bar and someone called my Talisker 10 year a cocktail, I don't think if I'd give an F... So whatever I suppose.

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I’d say it is now a drink composed of at least two other drinks, at least one of which must be alcoholic, and may contain other ingredients. 

So Bucks Fizz counts, and so does G&T, but a Virgin Mary doesn’t.

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With all the lawyers on the forum, I’m sure we’ll have a clear answer to the question in no time. :lol3:

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Might be hard to further define, but I know it when I see it 😉

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52 minutes ago, inter4alia said:

Might be hard to further define, but I know it when I see it 😉

Pornography and cocktails have a lot in common. 

 

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Don't be boring. This is primarily a cigar forum and thus some cigar smokers have shown their contempt for cocktail lovers. "The cigar is primary, everything else let it be a cocktail."

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My impression was that a mixed drink had two components (e.g. gin & tonic, rum & coke, etc.) where a cocktail had at least three components or a particular preparation/garnish (Tom Collins being gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, & soda water; martinis with olives & shaking) etc.

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My idea of a cocktail is anything alcoholic you put in your glass 

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