cocktail, short mixed drink originating in the United States and served as an appetizer. It generally has a basis of gin, whisky, rum, or brandy combined with vermouth or fruit juices and often flavored with bitters or grenadine. It is blended by stirring or shaking in a vessel containing cracked ice. The term is also applied to nonalcoholic beverages served as appetizers, e.g., tomato juice cocktail, and also to mixed, cut-up fruits and to shellfish and oysters served with a sharp sauce.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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