THIS is the true and delightful history of that most delicious of beverages, the “Cock’s Tail;” of how it came by its name, and of the maid, Daisy Allen, who contrived it, together with sundry recipes for its making.
NOW it has long been known among all those who love good liquor and a pretty face, and more particularly among the soldiers (truly most discerning and thirsty brutes), that nowhere in all the valley can be had such refreshment for man and beast as at the sign of the Bunch of Grapes, in Kingston; and that no more genial host ever beamed forth heartier comfort to the weary passengers who halted there than Squire Allen; and that no prettier maid, whether to draw a bumper or toss a kiss, stood behind the bar than the Squire’s chief failing, Daisy.
NOR is it less known that, though the Squire was ever a stout fellow himself, and as quick with a buffet as any man, and as ready with a smile, he had yet another failing beside Daisy, in that he was inordinately fond of the wholesome sport of cock-fighting, and that whoso injured or even spoke an ill word of one of his birds, stood in sore danger of his hide.
SO when, after an unwonted period of ill-humour and testiness, and much fidgeting of his big self about the neighbourhood, the Squire at last told dismally of the loss of his finest bird, the townsfolk knew that it would go hard with the rascal who had stolen him, and that he who was so lucky as to find and restore the bird would be welcome at the Bunch of Grapes always, no matter how many marks stood under his mug on the soapstone chimney-piece by the bar.
SO for many days things went on; not even Daisy being able to cheer the heart of her father, though her own was none too light. And then, one day, came a young lieutenant riding gaily into town with the selfsame great bird under his arm. He leaped from his horse, and was seized by the Squire, so overjoyed at the return of his pet that he forgot in a moment all his ill-humour, and called for the best in the house to refresh the young man.
NOW, whether it were from excitement, or nervousness, or accident, or whether, perchance, Mistress Daisy had before discovered the secret, and held it close for a great event, certain it is that she mixed sundry drops of bitters and wine of roots with a dram of good Kentucky whiskey, the whole poured over some generous bits of ice (not a little luxury in itself), and they all drank of the beverage ” to the cock’s tail,” — for Jupiter had not lost a single feather.
AND then the gallant lieutenant swore bravely that, in memory of the event, the delectable mixture he had drunk should be known through all the army as a cock’s tail.
THAT he has been as good as his word you may all bear me witness, for who of you have not drunk the stuff, too much, perhaps, and each better than the last? . But nowhere can it be had of finer quality, or smoother mix, than at the Bunch of Grapes, where the hearty lieutenant and his pretty wife, Daisy, still tell the tale, and where even the Squire — an old man now — will leave his whole yard of poultry for a cock’s tail.
Selections from the book “The Cocktail Book. A Sideboard Manual for Gentlemen. By L. C. Page & Company (incorporated), Boston, Mass., U.S.A., 1900”