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The Cocktail

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Cocktail glassware currently on display in the Beer, Wine & Spirits Exhibition at the LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center. (Credit: Catherine Threlkeld) Cocktail glassware currently on display in the Beer, Wine & Spirits Exhibition at the LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center. (Credit: Catherine Threlkeld)
Cocktail glassware currently on display in the Beer, Wine & Spirits Exhibition at the LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center. (Credit: Catherine Threlkeld) Cocktail glassware currently on display in the Beer, Wine & Spirits Exhibition at the LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center. (Credit: Catherine Threlkeld)
Cocktail glassware currently on display in the Beer, Wine & Spirits Exhibition at the LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center.  (Credit:  Catherine Threlkeld) Cocktail glassware currently on display in the Beer, Wine & Spirits Exhibition at the LSU Museum of Art in the Shaw Center. (Credit: Catherine Threlkeld)

By Katherine Terrell | LSU Student

A cocktail is more than of spirits, sugar, water and bitters.

It's a blend of American culture and history.

Luke Tullos, bartender at Jolie's in Lafayette, La., and a student of the cocktail's history, points out the concoction is a uniquely American product with roots as far back as 1803, when the term first appeared in The Farmer's Cabinet.

"It's truly one of the first American inventions," Tullos said. "It's in our blood.

Tullos, 29, has been studying the history of drinks since he became a permanent fixture in the restaurant industry six years ago. In his studies, he found the cocktail has experienced two "Golden Ages."

The first was the years leading up to Prohibition. The second is today.

The cocktail was enjoyed considerable popularity in the early 1900s and in time leading up to the United States' 1919-1933 ban on alcohol, he said. But during Prohibition, the love affair cooled.

Tullos said the industry took a hard hit in the post-Prohibition years and only since the 1980s has it begun to recover.

There has been an unprecedented since the millennium changed, says Tullos, because people started to expand their pallets and experiment with new drinks.

"People are just now beginning to realize that you can drink with responsibility," Tullos said. "You don't have to settle for a Jack (Daniels) and Coke or something out of a bottle."

Additionally, there has been more media coverage of the cocktail and its recipes, he said.

Tullos said there's no difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink, but, as a rule, mixed drinks are spirits and sodas, while cocktails are a blend of more than two ingredients.

Tullos is unsure which cocktail is America's current favorite, but he noted that gin whiskey have been making a comeback.

"Vodka overtook gin as the most popular mixing alcohol for a while, but more and more bartenders are using gin."

His favorite? Tough question.

"I love a lot of cocktails," Tullos said with a laugh. "It depends on how I feel."

Tullos shared his knowledge in a show called History of the Cocktail on March 22. He also has a blog called "Cocktail Revival."

He offers simple advice about cocktail drinking: Don't let people tell you what to drink. "If you like a Jack and Coke, that's fine. If that's your drink, drink it. Don't let people come down on you for what you drink."

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