Recipe Review

Top 5 Intriguing Cocktail Names Straight Up Cocktails

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Half the fun of cocktails is all the fascinating lore behind them. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite cocktail names – and the colorful stories they bring to the table with them:

  1. Harvey Wallbanger. There’s something kind of 1950s, Alfred E. Newman, Mad Magazine-y about the name of this once wildly popular drink, and we love that it has a suitably apocryphal story to go with it: Harvey was a champion surfer, who after losing an important competition, drowned his sorrows at his favorite bar, Pancho’s, in Manhattan Beach by drinking Screwdrivers (vodka and orange juice) spiked with the herbal liqueur Galliano. Harvey’s stumbling exit earned him – and the cocktail – the nickname “Wallbanger.”
  2. Negroni. This is a drink with a suave, aristocratic lineage. A little elegant, mysterious, with one foot planted firmly in history. Named for Count Camillo Negroni, who, while visiting Caffe Casoni in Florence one evening in 1919, asked the bartender to add a little zip to his Americano (red Vermouth and Campari) with a splash of gin. A popular new drink was born.
  3. Monkey Gland. If nothing else, this one’s an attention-getter. Touted as a virility-booster, this concoction of gin, Pernod (or sometimes Benedictine), orange juice, and grenadine was created at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s and named in honor of some headline-making experiments that were being performed by a primate-obsessed Russian scientist at the time.
  4. Corpse Reviver (two versions: No. 1 & No. 2). We like the wry, Roaring Twenties sensibility that went into naming this pair of “hair of the dog” cocktails. And the dry commentary that goes along with them in The Savoy Cocktail Book is icing on the cake: Corpse Reviver No. 1 (brandy, red vermouth, Calvados): “To be taken before 11am or whenever steam and energy are needed.” Corpse Reviver No. 2 (lemon juice, Lillet, Cointreau, gin, absinthe): “Four of these taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse again.”
  5. Fuzzy Navel. We still have a soft spot for the silly pun of this 1980s throwback. Vodka combined with peach schnapps (that’s the fuzzy part) and orange juice (made from navel oranges, of course!).

But this list is just a beginning. What are some of your favorite cocktail names?

(Image: Nora Maynard)