Cocktail historian David Wondrich is releasing an updated edition of his book IMBIBE! today, and in it he includes some pretty insane drinking facts including the origin of the word “cocktail.”

Wondrich explains the root of the word to Grub Street: “Ginger was used in the horse trade to make a horse stick its tail up. They’d put it in its ass. If you had an old horse you were trying to sell, you would put some ginger up its butt, and it would cock its tail up and be frisky. That was known as ‘cock-tail.’ It comes from that. It became this morning thing. Something to cock your tail up, like an eye-opener.” Ouch.

The first edition of IMBIBE!—required reading for any mixology enthusiast—came out in 2007, before the craft cocktail boom in America. In this new 2015 edition, Wondrich has revised and expanded the book to include more historical info, drinks recipes and modern tales of spirit revivals. Buy it for $20 on Amazon.com.


Alyson Sheppard is the resident hangover specialist at Playboy.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amshep