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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 99

  In the department of conviviality the imaginativeness of Americans was shown both in the invention and in the naming of new and often highly complex beverages. So vast was the production of novelties in the days before Prohibition, in fact, that England borrowed many of them and their names with them. And not only England: one buys cocktails and gin-fizzes to this day in “American bars” that stretch from Paris to Yokohama. Cocktail, stone-fence and sherry-cobbler were mentioned by Irving in 1809; 29 by Thackeray’s time they were already well-known in England. Thornton traces the sling to 1788, and the stinkibus and anti-fogmatic, both now extinct, to the same year. The origin of the rickey, fizz, sour, cooler, skin, shrub and smash, and of such curious American drinks as the horse’s neck, Mamie Taylor, Tom-and-Jerry, Tom-Collins, John-Collins, bishop, stone-wall, gin-fix, brandy-champarelle, golden-slipper, hari-kari, locomotive, whiskey-daisy, blue-blazer, black-stripe, white-plush and brandy-crusta remains to be established; the historians of alcoholism, like the philologists, have neglected them. 30 But the essentially American character of most of them is obvious, despite the fact that a number have gone over into English. The English, in naming their drinks, commonly display a far more limited imagination. Seeking a name, for example, for a mixture of whiskey and soda-water, the best they could achieve was whiskey-and-soda. The Americans, introduced to the same drink, at once gave it the far more original name of high-ball. So with ginger-ale and ginger-pop. 31 So with minerals and soft-drinks. Other characteristic Americanisms (a few