Drinks Week: Funny Drink Names

by Angela Tung on September 28, 2011

What do mudslides, hurricanes, earthquakes, and flaming volcanoes all have in common? Sure, they’re natural disasters, but they’re also mixed drinks with funny names.

Where do these amusing monikers come from? Sometimes they’re named for appearance. The mudslide, “consisting of vodka, Kahlua and Bailey’s,” is named for its muddy color (Kahlúa is a coffee-flavored liqueur made in Mexico), while the grasshopper, “made with green crème de menthe,” is named for its bright green hue. The flaming volcano, “made of rum, brandy, pineapple juice, orange juice, almond syrup, and sometimes other ingredients,” is placed in a volcano bowl which creates a “crater.” The alcohol in the crater is then set aflame – voila, a flaming volcano.

Some drinks were named for how they were originally served. The hurricane, made with “fruit juice, syrup or grenadine and rum,” may have been named after the hurricane-lamp-shaped glasses used by a New Orleans tavern owner in the 1940s who “needed to create a new drink to help him get rid of all of the less popular rum.” The screwdriver, “made of vodka and orange juice,” supposedly got its name “because American petroleum engineers in Saudi Arabia secretly added vodka to small cans of orange juice and stirred the mixture with their screwdrivers.”

Others were named for their effects on the drinker. The earthquake, three parts absinthe and three parts cognac, and attributed to painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, may have been named for its tendency to shake one up. The zombie, “a cocktail of rum and fruit juices,” supposedly turns its imbibers into, well, zombies.

Then there are those drinks named after people, real or fake. Harvey Wallbanger – the drink is “made with vodka, Vanilla Galliano and orange juice” – was supposedly a California surfer who “liked his screwdrivers spiked with Galliano.” After a particularly bad day:

he had one too many. Trying to leave the bar, Harvey stumbled into both furniture and the wall. Being a regular at this bar, and despite his performance, he returned and simply became known as the Wallbanger.

The bloody mary, a mixture of vodka and tomato juice, has a variety of different origins: Queen Mary I of England, aka “Bloody Mary”; a waitress named Mary at Bucket of Blood, a Chicago bar; or the actress Mary Pickford. The Tom and Jerry, “a hot sweetened drink of rum and water spiced with cinnamon, cloves, etc., and beaten up with eggs,” was named not for the cartoon characters but for characters in a 19th century play.

The Shirley Temple, “a non-alcoholic cocktail traditionally made with ginger ale, grenadine syrup, and orange juice garnished with a maraschino cherry and slice of lemon,” may have been invented by a Beverly Hills bartender to serve to then child star, Shirley Temple. The Shirley Temple Black, a play on her married name, includes rum.

The fuzzy navel, “usually made of peach schnapps and orange juice,” is  named for its ingredients – fuzzy for peach, navel for orange. Satan’s whiskers is named for an old-timey “swear” word (sort of like a 1920s version of Merlin’s beard), and perhaps also for its reddish appearance from one of its ingredients, Grand Marnier.

Most of us have probably heard of the screaming orgasm, “vodka, Irish Cream, and coffee liqueur”; slippery nipple, “a layered cocktail shooter most commonly composed of Baileys Irish Cream and Sambuca”; and sex on the beach, “vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and orange juice.” However, the origins of their names is obscure, at least as far as we could find.

Then there’s the just plain weird. The Monkey Gland, “a cocktail of gin, orange juice, grenadine and absinthe,” was named for a particular surgical technique:

Back in the 1920s, when a well-heeled gentleman’s vim and vigor were flagging, he would visit a Paris surgeon for an implant of monkey testicle tissue.

Hair of the dog, “an alcoholic drink taken the morning after to cure a hangover or withdrawal symptoms,” comes from the old Scottish belief that:

a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences. Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine next morning to soothe the nerves. “If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail in the morning.”

For a totally bro beverage, check out Fritinancy’s post on the guy’s version of a girly drink, as well as her write-up on some effen vodka. For even more funny drink names, look at our list of the day and this list of cocktails. That’s the spirit! And remember, liquor is quicker.

Tomorrow, to nurse your hangovers, we’ll give you some words about coffee.

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Karen]

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