Who coined the term “mocktail” anyway?

Well, it just so happens that I bumped into an article from a 1983 issue of American Speech where the answer was to be found (please don’t ask how I seemed to be randomly browsing such an esoteric journal).

Philip Kolin says: The coinage mocktail appears for the first time, I believe, in an advertisement for Libbey Glass in Food Service Marketing (Feb. 1979, p. 76). According to that ad, mocktails “are a relatively new group of beverages prepared without any alcohol whatsoever.” Kolin comments that the ad was for a new line of mocktail glassware (I had no idea that glassware was so specialized – perhaps because most of mine was purchased at Ikea).

He further states, clearly with the air of someone who loves language: Mocktail is a clever invention. It humorously rhymes with cocktail, but has a semantically appropriate first syllable. Mocktails are literally mock cocktails, with the sense of mock in mock chicken or mock turtle soup. The -tail of the second syllable of mocktail, however, has acquired a new meaning-that of the unshortened (and unadulterated) cocktail.

If the term mocktail has only been around since the late 1970s, what about the term cocktail? Well according to a Wikipedia article, the term cocktail first appeared in print in 1806 where it was described as a ” stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters — it is vulgarly called a bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.”

Just a little etymology to start your week.



Kolin, P.C. (1983). Mocktails, Anyone? American Speech, 58(2): 190-191.

3 thoughts on “Who coined the term “mocktail” anyway?

  1. […] Last year, the Best Start Resource Centre in Ontario produced an 8-page brochure, in French and English, for moms and moms-to-be. The brochures included information about alcohol use in pregnancy and a number of recipes for non-alcoholic beverages or “mocktails.” (For some random trivia, see an earlier post Who coined the term “mocktail” anyway?) […]

  2. Hello! As point of fact, which some may argue with, my father, Wilson Lee Seay, came up with the term mocktail at Augusta Country Club in 1976. He had been using since the early 70s. He came up with the recipes way before that to offer an alternative to customers who had been drinking before they would drive home. I remember drinking orange juice and peanut butter in 74 or 75. He invented a drink just for me, called it a mocktail, that he called a cherry orange sunset on an iceberg, around 1973. He called it my own little mocktail. I plan to one day take some these as yet unseen recipes and writ another mocktail book. Thanks for reading. David S Seay, original child helper for mocktails

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