Cocktail Kingdom Library (home)

The Evolution of Mixed Drinks: A Timeline

American cocktail culture evolved over time without a plan, involving myriad people, places, and circumstances. Our understanding of how cocktails evolved has required heavy reconstruction work from historians (primarily David Wondrich) examining the writing and other evidence that has survived to the present, and then writing the many chapters worth of stories the evidence implies. In this exhibit, we attempt to model a great many fragmentary stories into a single view “from 10,000 feet” to tie it all together. For a related view, see our timeline of writing exhibit.

This exhibit is interactive:

  • Slide timeline left and right by dragging it or using your device’s scrolling features
  • Click/tap on drink names for more information
  • Switch between different sets of historical context:

Note for screen readers: this exhibit consists of a large graphical timeline where the decades from before 1790 through the current day are represented left to right. Myriad drinks and contextual events from history are positioned on this timeline, some with lines connecting them to call out their relationships. This visual timeline is not really navigable with a screen reader. Much of this chronology is outlined in the book “Imbibe!” by David Wondrich. Also, please see our related exhibit, Essential Drinks of the American Bar.

Designed by Martin Doudoroff. Contributions by David Wondrich, Frank Caiafa, Craig Eliason, H. James Lucas, and François Monti. Pointer icons by @sawyerh.