The Cocktail Myth

Yes, another “myth”. If you missed the other one, which I can’t ever not think about when I see it, you can read it here. Additionally, if you missed the latest edition of the Werewolf Septology, you can find it here. I hope you enjoy this explanation for why we call them cocktails!

Dave hurried through the hallway to the door, above which echoed the mechanical bell that had just sounded. He opened the door to see his friend Caleb standing on the porch, brightly lit against the fading twilight behind it.

“Hey, man! Come on in!”

He closed the door behind his friend, who slipped out of his shoes, looking around the empty house.

“So where are your parents?”

“Oh, yeah. They’re out for tonight. I think they went to a cocktail party, or something like that.”

“Fancy.” Dave looked momentarily distracted.

“What is it?” Caleb asked, leading his friend into the kitchen.

They sat down at the table, Caleb bringing drinks from the fridge before sitting himself next to an open laptop.

“Cocktail. What in the world does that have to do with a mixed alcoholic beverage?”

Caleb shrugged. “I have no idea. Just a minute.”

Dave heard the quick tapping of keys from behind the screen of the laptop.

“Here we are. Now that’s an interesting origin.”

“Really, what is it?”

“Over a thousand years ago,” Caleb read from the screen. “There lived a great king. Now, this king was about to be married, and was thus collecting things for the feast. In particular, he desired a drink that would surpass all others. One with less the power of ale, but also its taste. He ordered his knights to find such a magnificent drink, but they all failed.

“Then came a new knight, named Haustus. When he heard of the king’s desire, he leapt to the challenge. He told the king that he would return with such a drink.

“’Best that thou be of haste,’ the king replied. ‘For I wed in one week. Pray ye are not late with this concoction I desire.’

“’You shall see me again in seven days, then, my lord,’ said the knight, whereupon he took his leave and traveled out into the wide, wide world.

“But six days passed and he found nothing. From the breweries of England, to the drinks of Araby, to the strange potions of the far east, nothing would suffice the magnificence the king desired. He began to despair, and sought out the most seldom visited places and inns, seeking something that might be of wondrous taste, but might not muddle the senses.

“In the morning, he came to a tavern named ‘The Black Raven’, displaying the image of a crow upon its sign. He entered it, and asked the innkeeper for the best drink he possessed. The innkeeper presented him a mug, and Haustus drank. The liquid struck him for, while it was nothing marvelous, it did taste strange, and yet familiar.

“’What hast thou used in thy concoction?’ asked the goodly knight of the innkeeper. ‘I seek a drink fit for a king on his wedding day, and while this here may not suffice, it may yet prove inspiration.’

“’That, noble sir,’ came the other’s reply. ‘Is wine, mixed with pepper and olives, which we make when we can, and all the men enjoy for its sharp taste.’

“’A sharp taste it has indeed, but I must find the king’s drink elsewhere,’ said the knight.

“He continued for many hours, until, at noon, he came upon the hall of a large lord, who had once wiled away his days with the pleasures of life, including drink, but had since committed himself to the life of a monk. So Haustus approached him, and thus proclaimed,

“’Lord, I know thou art knowledgeable in the craft of drinks, for surely thou finds most joy in that manner. I seek a drink worthy of a king’s wedding. What of this kind have ye?’

“’I have none,’ replied the lord. ‘Of no drink is there equal to water, for it is clean, simple, and sufficient for all men. But on a day of celebration, men will have none of it, which I, having lived a life of celebration once, do understand.

“’However, many of my friends in the abbey might, on a special day, mix wine with their water, diluting the potency of the former, while keeping its taste.’

“’An efficient drink it must be, my lord,’ said the knight. ‘But while it may give inspiration, I must find the king’s drink elsewhere.’

“So he departed the monk’s residence. Later, the sun marking the time for supper, he stopped by the home of a farmer, who welcomed him in warmly.

“Now, this farmer raised primarily one thing – chickens. There were chickens everywhere, including a couple roosters. After they had both eaten, Haustus spoke to the farmer.

“’I have been searching the world over for a drink worthy of a king’s wedding feast. I wonder whether thou would know of such a drink.’

“’I am merely an humble farmer, sir,’ replied the peasant. ‘I would not even know what to say if I were even brought before his majesty. But I think the two best drinks are cider and wine, for the first is simple and the second is royal.’

“Haustus continued to ponder this, walking outside. Out there, he saw two cocks standing on boxes next to the rain barrel. They lightly jumped up to the rim, but, being unable to occupy it at the same time, or even having the footing to occupy it one at a time, they fell into the rain barrel with a splash. Each was a red specimen, and soon the farmer had extracted them, leaving red feathers in the vat.

“At once, a great epiphany seized the knight’s mind. He took some of the tail feathers, quickly thanking and paying the farmer for the meal, before riding off to the king in excitement. Of course it was so simple, which was why an epiphany was needed to realize it.

“He hurried into the kitchens, and called to the chief cook.

“’Sir, take a vat of cider and a vat of wine, and mix the two together, and add these feathers in each goblet. If the king asks what the heavenly drink is called, you are to point at yonder feather, and say, “cocktail, your majesty!”’

“So the cook presented the drink, naming it appropriately, and everyone thought it perfectly marvelous. And then they all danced the tango and had lots of fun at the feast. Later, Haustus died of salmonella, because the farmer hadn’t properly cooked the eggs he had served. And they all lived happily ever after. The end.”

Dave frowned. “Is that really what it says? Let me see.”

He stood and seized the laptop, turning it so that he could see the screen.

“It’s not even on!” he exclaimed. “You made it all up!”

“Yeah. Of course. Did you think any history of a cocktail would have that much detail?”

“I’m so proud of you,” said Dave, wiping an imaginary tear under his eye. “My little buddy, able to improvise his own stories!”

“I’m not your ‘little buddy’! But yeah, it’s time you stopped hogging all the silly stories to yourself.”

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2 thoughts on “The Cocktail Myth

  1. Rob says:

    I have to admire Dave for not clueing in to the fact he was being had, until the very end. Nice to let Caleb do the whole story thing. But surely Dave already knew that the laptop wasn’t on? It was his house, right?

    Are we going to see more Caleb and Dave stories, then?

    • That is peculiar. I don’t know how I missed that.
      We’ll probably see some more of them, doing more crazy explanations for why things are the way they are. It depends on what my brain lingers on.

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