Welcome to Cocktail Week!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Marine science field work. Image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Welcome to Cocktail Week!  This week we will bring you a fusion of marine science and spirits all shaken not stirred.  Each post will bring you a cocktail recipe and tons of great science.  All week we will use liquor as metaphor and inspiration to discuss the newest research of the ocean realm.

You can participate on Twitter by following the #deepsn hashtag.  Friends of DSN will be contributing to Cocktail Week on their own blog as well.  I will broadcast these posts through Facebook, Twitter, and of course here at the flagship of the DSN armada.

We are also teaming up with fellow marine scientists and lovely libation lovers Lobos Marinos – International Marine Science (& Cocktails) on Facebook. They are actually working on an official book of cocktail recipes.  They are calling for entries from fellow scientists and aquanauts to submit their favorite recipes with an accompanying story of science, adventure, misadventure, scholarship, or depravity.  We will link to and republish the best of those here.

So before we move onto the official Deep-Sea News Cocktail, let’s take a moment to contemplate the linguistic history of the work cocktail itself.  The brief history is that no one can conclusively say where and when the word originated. Of course this has not stopped people from speculating.  My favorites are

Another possibility incorporates the fact that “cock-tail” was once a term for a non-thoroughbred horse.  Their tails were bobbed, or “cocked” to distinguish them from their purebred brethren. It also meant a man who wished to appear to be a gentleman but lacked the breeding to do so. Therefore, some assumed that either these faux-gentlemen’s drinks of choice over time acquired the same name, or a clever chap noted that a non-thoroughbred horse is a mix of breeds and “cocktail” is a mix of spirits and was inspired to give the drinks that moniker.


My favorite theory is that “cocktail” was derived from the 16th century drink “cock-ale,” which had as an ingredient–I kid you not–a dead rooster. A recipe from the 1500s:

Take 10 gallons of ale and a large cock, the older the better; parboil the cock, flay him, and stamp him in a stone mortar until his bones are broken (you must gut him when you flaw him). Then, put the cock into two quarts of sack, and put to it five pounds of raisins of the sun-stoned; some blades of mace, and a few cloves. Put all these into a canvas bag, and a little before you find the ale has been working, put the bag and ale together in vessel. In a week or nine days bottle it up, fill the bottle just above the neck and give it the same time to ripen as other ale.

But now it is time for the DSN official libation.

Deep-Sea News Cocktail

3 oz Beefeater gin

1 oz Dry Vermouth

1/2 tsp Licorice liqueur

1 dash Orange bitters

Garnish with Maraschino Cherry




Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

2 comments on “Welcome to Cocktail Week!
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