Cocktail names range from the commonplace to the whimsical, and it isn't always clear how popular drinks got their names. Naming a drink after the city of its origin seems like a straightforward way to preserve its history — but even that may not tell the full origin story. Whatever the narrative behind the brew, here are five cities from around the world with famous drinks named after them.
Drink: Moscow Mule
The widely popular Moscow Mule is a drink that combines vodka, ginger beer, and lime. Ironically, aside from its use as a Russian spirit, the drink has very little connection to the city of Moscow.
The Moscow Mule was said to have been invented in Los Angeles by John Martin (president of the Smirnoff Vodka distillery) and Jack Morgan, a Sunset Strip bar owner who brewed ginger beer. According to legend, the two friends invented the Moscow Mule cocktail after the Smirnoff brand failed to gain traction among Hollywood drinkers.
However it came about, this drink, served in its signature copper cup, has become ubiquitous in American bars. In Moscow itself? Less so. However, as the city's young professionals continue to embrace the worldwide cocktail culture, mixes like the Moscow Mule have become more widely available in bars.
Today, there are variations of the Moscow Mule everywhere. For example, a French Mule is made with cognac, instead of vodka. Likewise, an Irish Mule is made with Irish whiskey, rather than vodka.
Drink: London Buck
Though its name may not suggest it, the London Buck is actually a close relative of the Moscow Mule. In the world of bartending, bucks and mules are synonymous; both are drinks that involve the use of ginger, citrus flavorings, and a base spirit. The London Buck is made from combining gin — London's most iconic spirit — with ginger ale and lemon juice.
The drink was invented at London's Savoy Hotel by bartender extraordinaire Harry Craddock who included the recipe in his legendary The Savoy Cocktail Book. The London Buck has also been known as a gin buck or, with the addition of mint leaves, a Ginger Rogers, in honor of the actress.
According to Difford's Guide, the addition of "Buck" in a cocktail name references drinks lengthened with ginger ale. A popular drink, Buck's Fizz (also listed in Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book), is often confused with a London Buck style drink. However, Buck's Fizz belongs to the family of Fizz drinks made with citrus juices rather than ginger ale.
New York City
Drinks: Manhattan, Long Island Iced Tea
While there are all manner of — at times obscure — cocktails named after the Big Apple, two stand out above the rest. As is true of many cocktail recipes, the exact origins of the Manhattan are unclear. However, the most widely known claims the Manhattan as a New York City invention. The classic drink traditionally consists of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, but it has also inspired countless modern variations.
Just as popular, the recipe for the Long Island Iced Tea sounds as though an entire liquor cabinet fell into a glass. Named for another of the city's five boroughs, the drink generally contains tequila, rum, vodka, gin, and splashes of Coke and a sour mix. With an equally murky past as the Manhattan, the Long Island Iced Tea has no known creator.
Drink: Singapore Sling
Combining gin with various fruity sweeteners, the Singapore Sling was indeed invented in Singapore. The widely accepted story is that in 1915 — a time when society still deemed it inappropriate for a woman to be seen drinking in a bar — a bartender at the Raffles Hotel made the innocuous-looking pink drink for his female clientele. Though the views on drinking have changed significantly over the last century, the classic cocktail remains a popular drink for visitors.
For a taste of the original recipe, tourists can visit the same Raffles Hotel, located downtown on the southern edge of the island. Raffles is named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the British colonialist who founded Singapore in 1819. The original Sling has also inspired variations in bars around the world, with additions of pineapple, lychee, or grenadine.
The drink's colonial history, combined with Singapore's island culture and status as a global financial powerhouse, makes the country one of the most unique destinations in southeast Asia. Visitors will appreciate the delicious hawker stall offerings, the Orchard Road Shopping Center's world-class shopping options and the distinctive Gardens by the Bay, where natural beauty meets futuristic vision.
Drink: New Orleans Fizz
Though it's more widely known as a Ramos Gin Fizz, this New Orleans cocktail did originate from its namesake city. It contains gin, egg whites, orange-flower water, cream, sugar, lemon, lime, vanilla, and soda water. However, like many cocktails, it has seen variations come and go over time.
First created by Henrico C. Ramos at the Imperial Cabinet Saloon in New Orleans in 1888, the cocktail was known as a favorite of Huey Long, a Louisiana politician. Long arranged for a New Orleans bartender to fly to New York so he could enjoy the drink while campaigning there against President Franklin Roosevelt. The politician also famously stipulated that the drink be shaken for a solid ten minutes before serving.
While ordering it to such exacting specifications may not put you in any bartenders' good graces, the New Orleans Fizz is undoubtedly one of the more unique cocktails out there. Try one next time you're taking in the Creole culture of the Big Easy, or order a bourbon-based variation while exploring one of the oldest streets in America.