A woman’s drink?

8 Aug

The one form of alcoholic drink in which America surpasses the rest of the world is the cocktail. I have never yet seen a properly written history of cocktails. The subject still waits its philosopher. But I am inclined to think that the cocktail, the original of the species, Manhattan, Bronx, or whatever it may have been, was invented by a woman. True, these drinks are now universally mixed by men. But the inspiration is unquestionably feminine. Formulae for the making of cocktails exist. I was once asked to review a book which contained several hundred receipts for cocktails. But everyone agrees that the formula is of minor importance. The cocktail depends for its excellence not on careful measurements, but on the incalculable and indescribable thing called personality. The most skilful pharmaceutical chemist, trained all his life to the accurate weighting of scruples and measurements of drachms, might well fail as a maker of cocktails. He would fail if he did not possess an instinct for the art. Now this is characteristic of women’s work. Man reaches his conclusions by argument, bases his convictions on reason, and is generally wrong. Woman responds to emotion, follows instinct, and is very often right. Man is the drudging scientist, patient, dull. Woman is the dashing empiricist, inconsequential, brilliant. The cocktail must be hers. I shall continue, until strong evidence to the contrary is offered to me, to believe that the credit for this glory of American life belongs to her and not to man.

— George A. Birmingham, Connaught to Chicago (London: Nisbet, 1914), pp. 186-7.


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