5 cocktails with military origins

The terms “Happy Hour Club,” “Happy Hour Social Club,” and similar names, had been in use as the names of social club since at least the early 1880s. By June 1913, the crew of the USS Arkansas had started referring to their social gatherings as “Happy Hours.” The “Happy Hours” included entertainment, boxing and wrestling matches, music, dancing, and movies. By the end of World War I, the practice of holding “Happy Hours” had spread throughout the entire Navy.

Arkansas Happy Hour schedule

Unfortunately, on June 1, 1914, the Secretary of the Navy issued General Order 99 prohibiting the use or introduction of alcohol on any ship or station.  It was a good run for the Navy, but it wasn’t the only alcohol-related item inspired by the military. Happy Hour requires drinks, and here are some such drinks inspired by armed forces the world over.

1. Gin & Tonic

This legendary drink was introduced to the army of the British East India Company at the height of the British Empire. Malaria, a constant problem with officers and troops in India, was treated at the time with quinine, which tastes bitter and terrible. So the officers started mixing theirs with sugar, lime, and gin to make the stuff drinkable. Today’s tonic water is much sweeter, contains less quinine, and is much less bitter as a result.

Recipe
1-1/2 ounces Gin
1/2 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Tonic Water
Lime Wheel or Wedge Garnish (I prefer cucumber, especially with Hendrick’s Gin)

Fill highball glass with ice. Add Gin. Top with tonic water. Stir. Garnish if desired. Repeat. Keep Uber up-to-date.

2. Cuba Libre (aka Rum & Coke)

Cuba Libre was the battle cry for the Cuba Liberation Army during the war of independence from Spain at the turn of the 20th century. Coca-Cola first came to Cuba in the bags of U.S. troops who invaded the island as part of the Spanish-American War in 1898. In 1900, the cola started being exported to Cuba. According to Charles A. Coulombe, author of Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World, a bartender in Havana named Fausto Rodriguez first served the drink to a U.S. troop named “Barrio” who frequented his bar. Yes, this is a rum & coke, but it’s so much more.

Cuba Libre Rum Coca Cola Spanish American War

Recipe
1 ounce Bacardi Gold Rum
3 ounces Coca-Cola
Build in a tall glass over fresh ice. Lime wedge garnish.

3. Gunfire

A much less popular drink, this concoction was served to the lower ranking members of the British Army in the 1890’s to give them a bump of courage before a morning attack. More recently, British troops in the Korean War would give it out to U.S. military policemen after recovery missions. Some UK troops still consume Gunfire on special occasions, especially Christmas when officers serve it to their troops.

Bombardier Zoltan Harper receives his gunfire Drink from Warrant Officer 1 Dave Travis. 1st December 2011, saw the start of the festive session at Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) based at Imjin Barracks Innsworth, Gloucester. The day kicked off with the Officers and Warrant Officers waking the soldiers up with a traditional gunfire drink. After that followed sports matches junior ranks against senior ranks and Officers, which consisted of Football, Hockey and touch Rugby. The ARRC carol service followed that was graced with the Mayor of Tewkesbury, only to be followed by the Soldiers Christmas lunch. In keeping with tradition was serviced by the Officers and Senior Ranks.

Bombardier Zoltan Harper receives his gunfire Drink from Warrant Officer 1 Dave Travis. (NATO)

Recipe
1 cup of hot, black tea
1 shot of rum

4. Sidecar

Legend has it the Sidecar was created when a WWI Army Captain couldn’t beat a cold. At his favorite bar in Paris, the bartender made this libation and named it after the motorcycle sidecar in which he was usually chauffeured.

FlyingSquadron

Recipe
1-3/4 ounces Cognac
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
Orange Twist Garnish

Combine liquids in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to blend and chill. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.

5. French 75

World War I fighter pilot Raoul Lufbery was of French and American descent, flying with the Lafayette Escadrille, American aviators who wanted to fight against Germany, even though the United States had not yet entered the war. For French pilots, champagne was the drink of choice. For Lufbery’s American side, that wasn’t enough – so he spiked his champagne with cognac, a mix he said made him feel like he was hit by a French 75mm howitzer.

Canon_de_75_front

(Wikimedia Commons: Museé d l’Armeé)

Recipe:
1-1/4 ounce Hennessy Cognac
3/4 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup (or a tad less)
Brut Champagne
Lemon Twist for Garnish

Combine Hennessy, lemon juice, and bar syrup in a cocktail shaker filled one third full of ice. Shake thoroughly for ten to fifteen seconds. Strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top off with champagne. Garnish with lemon twist. Note :If using Courvoisier rather than Hennessy, up the amount to 1-1/2 ounces of cognac to achieve the balance of flavor.

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