A study of Bay Area’s (hic) cocktail history

“It all started with a shot of Peruvian brandy, lemon juice and a jigger of pineapple syrup. They called it a Pisco punch, and it was the first cocktail ever mixed in San Francisco. Or, if it wasn’t a Pisco punch, maybe … hic … it was a whiskey concoction invented by miners. Or perhaps … burp … it was a sherry aperitif poured by Spanish missionaries.

In any case, the Bay Area has a rich and riotous history of mixed drink inventions, and a UC Berkeley historian has set out to document it, from the mai tai to the martini and beyond. Everything, that is, but the hangover. ‘What cocktails tell us, not just about drinking culture but American life, is incredibly fascinating,’ said Shanna Farrell, a historian at Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office. ‘The Bay Area has been a center of that, and that history has never been researched.’

Farrell plans to interview bartenders, distillers, historians and bar owners, covering everything from recipes to Prohibition to political and social influences dating from the Gold Rush to the present. Her office is raising money online to finish the project. The idea was a no-brainer for the Bancroft Library, which has one of the country’s most comprehensive archives of Western memorabilia.” – Carolyn Jones, SFGate

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