First, a brief history of toasts
Lifting the cup of cheer and drinking a toast to health and happiness is as ancient a tradition as the invention of spirited liquors and wines. Hardly was fermentation discovered than words of goodwill were created with which to down the gleeful fluids.
THE ANCIENT Greeks and Romans toasted the health of friends and guests for much more pragmatic reasons than is our custom today. The gesture guaranteed a poison-free drink, in that the host pledged ‘good health’ and at the same time poured some of his visitor’s drink into his own glass — always holding both glasses in clear view. A friendly and reassuring ceremony!
To the north, the early Vikings intoned the word “Skal,” then downed the ‘cup’ in its entirety. The cups were made of skulls; sometimes human, sometimes animal — and thence our own borrowed version “Skal” from the modern Scandanavians.
THE BRITISH toasts, “Bottoms up’ and “Here’s mud in your eye,” are related. The reason: natural sediment found in the bottom of a bottle of red wine (properly stood upright for a few hours before serving) could be equated with “mud,”‘ which was Oxford colloquial for “dregs.”
Although toasting has been popular since ancient days, it wasn’t until the Stuart period that a toast actually was called a toast.
In chilly old England. all social gatherings took place around the fireplace. It was discovered that bread toasted on the fire, and then cast on one of the popular heavy beverages, resulted in a savory treat. Drinking one’s toast’ instead of eating it became a popular witticism, and both the English sense of humor and the word “toast” prevailed.
THE SCOTS have a variety of toasts. “A quid to yin and awl” or “Here’s to them wha’s like us devil ayin” are typical. No Scot, however, can beat the score of that noted poet and elbow-bender Robert Burns, who composed more toasts per ounce than any one person in history.
For the traditional New Year toast, the French suggest raising the champagne glass in the annual “Bonne Annee’ or “Bonne et Heureuse Annee. “‘
HOLIDAY travel in a shrinking world brings festive spirits from more countries together each year. The list of how to say “Here’s How’ now includes: Esperanto (Je Zio Sano): France (Sante or A Votre Sante); Germany (Prosit); British Commonwealth (Bottoms Up or Cheers!):; Israel (L’Chaim), Italy (Salute); Japan (Bonzai); Norway (Skal): Sweden (Skal); Poland (Na Zdorovje); Russia (Na Zdorovje): Spain and Spanish-speaking countries (Saludos-Pesetas, Amor y Tiempo Para Gastar).
Americans always have liked toasts that are witty — both colorful and off-color. But to a good friend, we suggest the toast with the most:
“I drank your health in company,
I drank your health alone.
I drank your health so many times,
I’m beginning to lose my own!”
From the Des Moines Tribune (Des Moines, Iowa) August 14, 1969
Back bar secrets from the country’s top bartenders
Use the best! Above all, use good liquor. Whatever you add in mixing a drink, the taste of the basic liquor comes through. You can’t make a really good drink with inferior liquor.
Never guess — measure! Not even a highball should be “eyeballed.” The best drinks are made with exact measurements of finest ingredients. Basic measures: 1 jigger = 114 02,, 1 pony = 1 oz.; 1 dash = 4-6 drops.
When t0 shake, when to stir: In general, stir drinks made with clear liquors. Shake those made with juice. For a “frothy collar,” add a tablespoon of egg white before shaking.
Which comes first? As a rule, put sugar, fruit juice, other ingredients in glass first, then add liquor. But in carbonated drinks, put in ice, add liquor, then add mix. Serve at once.
Pre-chill your glasses! For better drinks, fill glasses with cracked or shaved ice. Let stand; dump ice. Add drink; serve at once. To frost, put wet glass in the freezer. To “sugar frost,” moisten rim with lemon, dip in sugar, and brush off excess.
Never skimp on ice — Nothing is worse than a lukewarm “cold” drink. Be sure ice is fresh (old ice absorbs refrigerator odors and tastes stale.) Change ice for each round.
50 drinks & toasts… to help make you the perfect host (1968)
“Toasting” – How it began
The custom of toasting, first known as drinking “healths,” began hundreds of years BC, when ancient warriors offered drinks to pagan gods.
At banquets, early Greeks drank to every god on Olympus. Romans added a pledge to Caesar, and downed a cup for each letter in his name. Norsemen offered a minne to Odin and Thor, adding other cups to love, memories, friends.
Later on, merrymakers drank to each other’s well-being. Our own word “health” is from the Norse greeting Heil, and Anglo-Saxons pledged friends with Waes Hael, or “be thou well!” Pledging health in those cutthroat days was very real. A man was particularly vulnerable to unfriendly swords while drinking.
Thus a kinsman, in “pledging health,” swore to defend him. Centuries later, the singing of robust songs and chug-a-lugging became part of drinking “healths.” This custom fell into disfavor, was even outlawed (England, 1649).
But “drinks of honor” survived. They saluted the ladies (the first drinks called toasts), wealth, love, success.
Today a toast may be a casual “here’s to you” or a special tribute for a special occasion. But the greatest honor to a friend is the expertly made drink itself.
This helpful guide shows you how you can mix and improve great drinks to toast any celebration.
Happy toasts to say and share
For special events (use person’s name before each toast)
“To your birthday, glass held high,
Glad it’s you that’s older — not I.”
“Although another year is past,
She’s no older than the last!”
“There’s another candle on your cake?
Well, that’s no cause to doubt or spout.
Be glad you have the strength enough
To putt and blow the darn things out!”
“Here’s to the groom and to his wife:
Chasing her got him caught for life!”
“To the newlyweds: May ‘for better
or worse’ be far better than worse.”
“Here’s to my mother-in-law’s daughter.
And here’s to her father-in-law’s son,
And here’s to the vows we’ve just taken,
And to the life we have just begun!”
“To friends: As long as we are able
To lift our glasses from the table.”
“To the good old days… we weren’t
so good, ’cause we weren’t so old!”
“Here’s to the memories we all treasure,
To our waistlines, increased in measure!”
“Here’s to our friendship, tried and true,
The men’ve passed 40; the girls never do.”
It’s easy to be an expert TOAST-MIXER, once you learn this secret of the “pros”…
This guide has easy recipes for famous drinks made with all the popular basic liquors: Bourbon, Scotch, gin, vodka, rum, Southern Comfort.
But one secret — the art of “switching” basic liquors — helps you improve the taste of many drinks. A perfect example is the use of Southern Comfort to achieve a smoother, tastier base for your Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds, Collinses, etc.
The difference, of course, is in the unique flavor of Southern Comfort itself. It adds a deliciousness no other basic liquor can. Try it. Mix one of these drinks the regular way; then mix it with Southern Comfort. Compare them. The improvement is remarkable. But to understand why it’s true, make the taste test in this guide.
Ancient origins of popular toasts & sayings about drinking
The term “skoal” or “skal” still survives from early Norse days. Warriors drank from the skalle, or skull, of a slain enemy, in a victory toast “Skalle to my lord.”
Today “‘skoal” is widely used as a toast to health, prosperity.
Origin of “DOWN A PEG”
As the toasting cup was passed, strong argument often resulted as to the amount each was drinking. Thus the cups were often marked with metal pegs to indicate the portions. Eventually, these became marks of drinking prowess . . . to see who could take his cronies “down a peg” by drinking a measure more.
The “LOVING CUP” story
Ancient toasts were drunk from a massive common cup, passed from person to person as a token of peace and goodwill. Thus today we “‘pass the loving cup.” The custom probably began with the cup of salvation shared in rites of the Hebrews, who then often smashed the vessels to prevent their secular use. This tradition, too, survives — in shattering the glass used in ceremonial toasts.
The ancient art of toasting
In ancient Greece, after-dinner drinking grew so boisterous, a chief overseer became necessary.
He was called the “symposiarch,” or master of the drinking party. He controlled the quantity of liquor and the order in which “healths” (later called toasts) were drunk.
Today, he’s called a “toastmaster” … one who presides over a banquet.
What is Southern Comfort?
It’s a special kind of basic liquor. In old New Orleans, a gentleman was disturbed by the taste of even the finest whiskeys of his day. So he combined rare and delicious ingredients, to create this unusually smooth, superb liquor.
Its formula is still a family secret — its delicious taste still unmatched by any other liquor. Try it. See how it improves mixed drinks, how good it tastes straight, on-the-rocks, or in a
COMFORT*HIGHBALL: Pour jigger S.C. over ice cubes; add juice 44 lime or twist of lemon peel. Fill with sparkling water; stir.
Vintage drink recipes: Ordinary Manhattan recipe & the improved version
Toasts heard ’round NYC
Manhattan’s favorite toasts: “To Wall Street – may your broker not become richer as you become broker!”
Gimlet / Bloody Mary / Daquiri / Comfort ‘n Bourbon / Rob Roy / Dry Martini / Rum Swizzle
Vintage drink recipes: Regular & improved Old Fashioned
Old-fashioned toasts & ’60s vintage drink recipes
“To the fools, for without them, the rest of us could not succeed!” – Mark Twain
More boozy ’60s cocktail recipes
Tom Collins / Rum & Cola / Gin Rickey / Lemon Cooler / Mint Julep / Gin & Tonic / Honolulu Cooler / Desert Cooler
Vintage drink recipes: After-dinner cocktails
Black Russian / White Mustache / Coffee and Cointreau / Comfort Eggnog / Open House Punch