Drinking to good health might sound like an oxymoron, but a closer look at the history of spirits shows that healing ailments has always been at the root of cocktail culture. In fact, cocktails were originally created in early pharmacies and apothecaries all the way up until the beginning of the twentieth century.
The earliest known pharmacist-prepared tinctures, bitters, elixirs and tonics where made with herbs, flowers, fruits and yes, even vegetables laced in alcohol, which preserved their healing properties. These potions where custom made using botanicals grown right in the apothecaries to ensure freshness and potency, then shaken or stirred and given to the patient as a prescriptive.
A Restorative Cocktail
These restorative cocktails served people well, curing ailments ranging from an upset stomach to scurvy. In fact, what is simply known to modern cocktail lovers, as a gin and tonic, was first introduced by the British East India Company to prevent malaria amongst its soldiers in India.
Cocktail’s Curative Qualities
It wasn’t until 1906, that the government got involved and began to move alcohol-based cocktails out of pharmacies and into the cocktail bar, where their curative qualities became an afterthought.