A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 03, 2009
Cocktailian

Entry in progress—B.P.

Word Spy
cocktailian
(kawk.TAYL.ee.un) n. A person who is an expert at making cocktails; a master bartender. —adj.

Example Citation:
“Professor” Jerry Thomas, that is, hero to all cocktail historians, aspiring bar stars and other assorted “cocktailians” (a term coined, as far as we know, by spirit and cocktail writer Gary Regan.) Thomas, considered by many to be the father of the cocktail, and his heritage was the spark for a recent SlowFood NYC tribute to the purely American form of drinking, held at the classic NYC Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel.
—"Hats off to Jerry,” Cheers, April 1, 2003

Earliest Citation:
One of Abou-Ganim’s winning cocktails was the Golden Dragon, a drink made with 8-year-old rum, orgeat or almond syrup, creme de coconut and fresh cream. The ingredients were shaken well and then strained into an ice-filled, old-fashioned glass that had been coated with sweet vermouth. The drink earned the esteemed cocktailian a whopping 74 points out of a possible 80, placing him second in the Millennium Cocktail category.
—Gary Regan, “U.S. bartenders mix it up with best in world, end dry spell with six prizes,” Nation’s Restaurant News, September 10, 2001

Notes:
Mixing cocktails is becoming a highfalutin business. As proof (no, that’s not a pun) you need only consider the large number of drink mixers who are nixing the title bartender (a worthy word that dates from 1836). Instead, many prefer the pretentious appellation bar chef or the awkward label cocktailian.

There’s an earlier — now defunct — sense of this word that referred to any person who enjoys cocktails:

Though the tour of the mansion is worth an admission price, the charge probably dissuaded fleets of cocktailians from stepping out onto their strobe-lit dance floor.
—Diana Aitchison, “On the town,” The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), May 21, 1993

Google Books
Interviews with Robert Frost
By Robert Frost and Edward Connery Lathem
New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
1966
Pg. 119:
On T. S. Eliot’s latest play — “Cocktailian Episcopalia.”

Google Books
Robert Frost: a biography
By Jeffrey Meyers
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin
1996
Pg. 200:
He called Eliot’s The Cocktail Party, a successful religious play of 1950, “Cocktailian Episcopalia.

Access My Library
DrinkBoy.com: Rich in Cocktail knowhow, and everybody knows your online name. (On Beverage).
Nation’s Restaurant News| March 04, 2002 | Regan, Gary
I think it’s about time to tell the full story about the members of the Cocktailian Club. It’s not a real club - and to tell the truth, I’m the only “member” to think of it under that name. Most of the rest of my fellow cocktailians just think of us as members of DrinkBoy’s Community for the Cultured Cocktail (hhp//communities.com com/drink/).

Most of you will recognize at least some of these names: LibationGoddess, Dr. Cocktail, Porgy McNasty, Stinger, Dangermonkey, Bobbeaux and, of course, DrinkBoy himself, all of whom meet regularly at this Internet community. We all take the subject of cocktails seriously, and dozens, if not hundreds, more people with similar interests can be found there, too. Raphael, a Spaniard who dissects each and every drink and tirelessly experiments with ingredient ratios, is another ardent cocktailian, and David Wondrich, the guy in charge of cocktails at esquire.com, appears frequently under his own name.

24 May 2003, The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), ‘The word on the street is cocktailian” by Beth Pearson, pg. 2:
Handily, it can be used as a noun or adjective (although its form means that it is correctly used as an adjective). Therefore, a cocktailian may mix your cosmopolitan, but you may also go for a cocktailian refreshment after work. Cocktailian is the preferred American term; mixologist is the British equivalent. Both terms were invented after the cocktail, last seen in the Tom Cruise film of the same name, was dragged back in fashion by media role-models, the growth of style bars and drinks manufacturers.

Life with a Cocktail
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Cocktailian?
Obviously, I love cocktails. Thursday nights, as you know, are cocktail night here in my household. Interestingly, a friend of mine once wondered if by cocktail night I meant going out with girlfriends for drinks. No, I stay right at home where my favorite bartender, Brian, makes my cosmos exactly the way I like it.
(...)
I’m picky about my cocktails or so I thought. In the NY Times (the source for all my information, have ya noticed?) I found this article about cocktail geeks or cocktailians as one person prefers.

OCLC WorldCat record
SPIRITS UPDATE - Craft distillers are creating exciting local and regional products that will appeal to “cocktailians,” gourmet travelers and your customers.
Author: Jerald O’Kennard
Publisher: [Cleveland, Ohio : Penton/IPC]
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Restaurant hospitality. 93, no. 2, (2009): 50

LA Weekly (Los Angeles, CA)
The New Cocktailians
The farmers market–loving, sleeve garter–wearing ladies and gentlemen of the bar taking over L.A.’s restaurants one glass at a time

By Jonathan Gold
Published on March 04, 2009 at 2:22pm

Village Voice - Fork in the Road
Did Gary Regan Coin the Term ‘Cocktailian’? And, More Importantly, Does It Work?
By Chantal Martineau in Drink Up, FeaturedWednesday, Sep. 30 2009 @ 5:25PM
​For those among us who cringe each time a suspendered, mustachioed barman proclaims himself “mixologist”—a word likely to be uttered repeatedly at this weekend’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic—salvation may lie in a new term, one that conveys a greater sophistication than the task a mere drinks slinger performs, yet doesn’t attempt to heighten the craft of tending bar to scientific proportions. The word “cocktailian” may meet such criteria. The term has been thrown around for several years now, and has even been employed on Fork in the Road. But where does it come from? Spirits writer and bitters producer Gary Regan would like to take credit for it, thank you very much.

On his website, Ardent Spirits, he posts a correspondence between himself and several others in the industry about introducing the term that is dated May through November 2001. Unless someone would like to challenge its first usage (Barry Popik, we’re looking at you), it appears Regan may well have invented the word. Now, whether it’s grammatically appropriate is another question. Some feel that the “ian” ending is too adjectival. Any tippling grammarians—or linguistically-inclined imbibers—like to weigh in?

7 comment(s) / Post a Comment
JR says:
I love Gary, but there are plenty of much earlier references. He probably brought the word back, and I do think it’s a good one, but there’s a reference to the “Young England discovery of the pure Cocktailian race” in a book called “Nuts and Nutcrackers, by C.J. Lever. You could look it up.
Posted On: Thursday, Oct. 1 2009 @ 10:41AM

smackyou says:
Who gives a fuc*?
Posted On: Thursday, Oct. 1 2009 @ 12:39PM

gary regan says:
As noted in WordSpy, there’s also this earlier reference to the term:

Though the tour of the mansion is worth an admission price, the charge probably dissuaded fleets of cocktailians from stepping out onto their strobe-lit dance floor. Diana Aitchison, “On the town,” The Commercial Appeal (Memphis), May 21, 1993.

And Rob Lozan, an artist, does paintings of a 3-eyed alien character drinking a cocktail. He dubs the guy The Cocktailian, and this, too, predates my 2001 “coining” of the term.

There’s nothing new under the face of the sun, as they say, though I do think that it’s possible that my 2001 DrinkBoy posting might have given birth to its present meaning, at least within the bartending community.

I posted the 2001 drinkboy thing onto our site after someone aske me to define the term. Here’s what I came up with:

Cocktailian: A bartender, or an amateur mixologist, who has a deep knowledge of ingredients commonly used in cocktails, and the ability to bring them together in harmony.

Then, after consulting with Robert Hess, a cocktailian if there ever was one, he added a second definition:

Cocktailian: A person with a deep appreciation for well-constructed cocktails and mixed drinks.

And for the record, I’d rather be a good bartender--someone who really cares about his or her customers in a truly personal sense--than a great cocktailian any day of the week.

Cheers, gaz regan
Posted On: Thursday, Oct. 1 2009 @ 12:46PM

cmartineau says:
@JR: Thanks for this!
Posted On: Friday, Oct. 2 2009 @ 4:15PM

cmartineau says:
@smackyou: Um, cocktail nerds. Duh.
Posted On: Friday, Oct. 2 2009 @ 4:16PM

cmartineau says:
@ gary regan: Yes, it’s true. There is nothing new under the sun! But I’m glad you posted the correspondence anyway. There are so many great literary references to cocktails that it only makes sense for cocktail people to seriously discuss words, no?
Posted On: Friday, Oct. 2 2009 @ 4:20PM

gaz regan says:
Yes, it’s fun to discuss this stuff. I should probabky add that when I “coined’ the word (even though it had been “coined” before, I had never consciously seen or heard it), it was meant to be a word to replace “mixologist,” and in that context, it didn’t work at all.

Cocktailian found its own meaning by being used by the bartending community, and then picked up by the public at large.
Posted On: Saturday, Oct. 3 2009 @ 9:03AM

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Tuesday, November 03, 2009 • Permalink


Thanks for this, Barry.  There’s just a tad more info here if you’d like to check it out: http://ardentspirits.com/BehindTheBarPost.aspx?PostID=666

Posted by gary regan  on  11/04  at  01:05 PM

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