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?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 30, 2009