15 Stars, 15 Stripes, 15 Original Cocktails

The nation’s top mixologists create cocktails inspired by our spirited past.

Mixologists & Cocktail Recipes

  • Eric Alperin
  • Anu Apte
  • Greg Best
  • Derek Brown
  • Brendan Casey
  • Brendan Dorr
  • Phoebe Esmon
  • Gui Jaroschy
  • Charles Joly
  • Sean Kenyon
  • Steven Liles
  • Chris McMillian
  • Ivy Mix
  • Josey Packard
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Raise a Glass Cocktail #8: Last Call of Duty

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Sherry: America’s First Wine

By Regan Hofmann

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Though no other beverage evokes images of old Spain, bullfights and Hemingway’s foreign travels the way sherry does, its roots in American history go all the way back to the first European explorers.

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Origin Story: Cocktail Shakers

By Ryan Lintelman, Curatorial Assistant, NMAH

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American bartenders first began to use cocktail shakers in the mid-1800s. For centuries, tavern keepers had been stirring or pouring drinks between cups to mix them. But when ice became widely commercially available in the 1800s, bartenders needed a container to quickly mix, chill, and strain the fashionable new cocktails, juleps, and nogs that were taking the country by storm. The earliest shakers, predecessors of the “Boston shaker” still preferred by mixologists today, was simply comprised of two large glasses or tin tumblers of unequal circumference fitted together at their mouths to form a tight seal. The mixed drink could then be strained into a final glass. In 1872, William Harnett of Brooklyn submitted a patent for an “apparatus for mixing 6 drinks at once” and succeeding patents introduced new types and sizes of shakers to meet bartender’s needs.

Loophole Liquor: Five Drinks You Could Legally Have During Prohibition

By Regan Hofmann

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Mlle. Rhea, a dancer, seated with a flask in a garter on her leg. Taken Jan. 26, 1926.

Thanks to a few persistent lobbyists and some common household chores, not all alcohol was chased out of the country during the 13 years of Prohibition. They may not have been pretty – or even intended for public consumption at all – but for the determined drinker, there were still a few legal sources of alcohol kicking around. Here are five of the most common hooch alternatives from the era, ranked from tastiest to do-not-try-this-at-home.

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Origin Story: The Martini

By Ryan Lintelman, Curatorial Assistant, NMAH

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The martini is one of the classic cocktails, spawning thousands of variations that send cocktail purists cursing, firm in their belief that a “martini” means gin and dry vermouth. Period. But in its earliest days, a surprising number of ingredients make appearances in martini recipes. The first known recipe, in O. H. Byron’s 1884 The Modern Bartenders’ Guide, described a Martinez (the precursor to the martini) as a Manhattan, “only you substitute gin for whisky.” Jerry Thomas, in his 1887 edition of the Bar-Tender’s Guide, called for bitters, maraschino, sweet vermouth, Old Tom gin, and… simple syrup! It may not have been until 1911, when Martini di Arma di Taggia, an Italian-American bartender at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel, used French dry vermouth in his version that the drink as we know it today was born.

Bibulous Bios: Carrie Nation

By Regan Hofmann

Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (Artist: White Studio c. 1903, gelatin silver print, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (Artist: White Studio c. 1903, gelatin silver print, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution)

Carrie Amelia Moore Nation (1846-1911), a.k.a Carry A. Nation, “The Lady with the Hatchet”

Though Prohibition is synonymous with the Roaring Twenties, the political movement that spawned it took nearly 100 years to catch on in the U.S. Throughout the 19th century, the Temperance Movement spread across the country, using religious invective and the fear of social unrest to advocate for the abolition of alcohol. Organizations like the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Prohibition Party, and the Anti-Saloon League ran grassroots campaigns, sending their most outspoken members on tours around the country to distribute pamphlets and stir up support for the cause.

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