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A cocktail is a kind of mixed drink. Usually, it is made with alcoholic drinks such as vodka, gin or rum. Since such spirits do not have much taste of their own (at around 40% alcohol), other ingredients are added. Common ingredients are fruits, fruit juice, sugar, crushed ice, and ice cubes. If the cocktail is served in a bar or nightclub, it often comes with a piece of fruit on top. For example, a gin and tonic could have a lemon, a Piña Colada could have a pineapple and a cherry.
Most cocktails were invented in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. People began drinking a lot of cocktails in the United States in the 1920s due to Prohibition. Around that time, cocktails from Cuba, such as the mojito, became popular around the world.
Cocktails made without alcohol are also made.
Because all the ingredients give their flavor to the finished drink, a cocktail is only as good as the worst ingredient.
There are many kinds of cocktails. They include:
- A martini is the most common cocktail. It is made with gin and vermouth, and served with an olive
- There are many variations on a martini, which include a Gibson (martini with an onion instead of an olive), a Bronx (Martini plus orange juice), and an Appletini (made with apple liqueur instead of vermooth)
- The Old-fashioned is thought to be the first cocktail. It is made with whiskey, sugar, bitters, and soda water
- A margarita is made with tequila, triple sec and lime juice. It came from Mexico, and is commonly served in Mexican cuisine.
- A sidecar is similar to a margarita, but is made with Cognac instead of tequila
- A Manhattan is made with rye whiskey, vermouth, and bitters
- If it is made with scotch, it is called a Rob Roy
- A mojito is made with rum, lime juice, sugar, water and spearmint leaves.
- A mint julip is similar to a mojito. It made with bourbon, sugar, water, and spearmint leaves. It is popular in the Southern United States, especially at the Kentucky Derby
- A daiquiri is made with rum and lime juice. Like many popular cocktails, it came from Cuba.
- A Piña Colada is an iced cocktail made with pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum. It came from Puerto Rico.
- A Bloody Mary is made with tomato and lemon juices, plus vodka. It is different not only because of its blood-red color, but because it is served with a pickle or celery.
There is a group called the IBA that determines what common cocktails are, and how they should be made