How The Lion’s Tail Cocktail Got Its Name

Lion's Tail

The Lion’s Tail Cocktail is a cocktail that has managed to find renewed favor in recent times. It is believed to have been created at some point during the first half of the 20th century. Specifically, the Lion’s Tail Cocktail was published in a cocktail book in 1937. However, the speculation is that it was invented during the Prohibition, which started up in 1920 and continued until 1933. Whenever it was invented, the Lion’s Tail Cocktail remained popular for some time before fading out. It remained unremembered until the late 2000s. That was when an updated version of a book called Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktail came out, thus leading to the revival of a number of cocktails. Content-wise, the Lion’s Tail Cocktail features bourbon, allspice dram, lime juice, simple syrup, and Angostura bitters. The allspice dram might be the most notable ingredient in that list. This is because it lost its popularity following the Tiki craze of the mid 20th century, so much so that it went out of circulation in the 1980s. After which, allspice dram didn’t return to the United States until 2008. As such, it seems safe to say that the return of the Lion’s Tail Cocktail in the late 2000s wasn’t exactly a coincidence.

How Did the Lion’s Tail Cocktail Get Its Name?

Moving on, the name of the Lion’s Tail Cocktail is thought to have come from the saying “twisting a lion’s tail.” Chances are good that interested individuals can guess the saying’s general meaning. After all, a lion is quite dangerous from the perspective of a lone human. Furthermore, they aren’t the friendliest animals out there, so twisting their tail seems like the kind of thing that can end very poorly for the person who is serving as the hypothetical point-of-view character. As such, the saying “twisting a lion’s tail” means antagonizing either someone or something that could prove to be very dangerous. Having said this, it is important to note that the saying wasn’t quite meant to describe antagonizing just anyone or anything. Instead, it tends to be used to refer to antagonizing the United Kingdom.

Some people might find that to be a bit confusing. Still, there is a long tradition of associating certain countries with certain animals. To name some examples, the United States has its eagle, France has its rooster, and Russia has its bear. The United Kingdom is associated with the bulldog. However, the United Kingdom has an even stronger association with the lion. This is rather amusing when one remembers that the lion never lived in Great Britain in historical times. Yes, there were cave lions on the island at one point in time. Unfortunately, the last of the cave lions died out 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, so it seems rather unlikely for them to have had a notable impact on English culture. Still, the source of the United Kingdom’s association with the lion isn’t exactly mysterious by anyone’s standards. In short, the lion was around on the European continent until about 100 BC.

However, the people of the Roman Empire liked to show their control of the human sphere by exposing condemned prisoners to wild beasts. There were no lions on the European continent, but that wasn’t a huge problem when there were lions in North Africa and Mesopotamia that could be exported elsewhere. For that matter, the people living in what was once the Western Roman Empire remained familiar with lions even when the Western Roman Empire fell because they remained in contact with the regions where said animals could be found. As such, lions were very common in medieval heraldry. One excellent example would be Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou, who is known to have identified himself through the use of a gold lion.

Said individual is relevant because he married Empress Matilda, who was one of the claimants to the English throne during the Anarchy. She was never crowned the Queen of England in her own right. However, her son Henry was successful in becoming King Henry II of England. Said monarch’s family life was a bit of a disaster, as shown by how he seems to have died of vexation when he learned that his favored son had voiced support for his other son’s war against him. Even so, Henry II’s two surviving sons went on to become two of the most famous English monarchs ever, with one being Richard the Lionheart and the other being John Lackland.

For a long time, Richard was considered to be an iconic English monarch, which was rather amusing when he spent as little as six months in England. As such, his choice of the three lions stuck. At this point, it is worth mentioning that the Lion’s Tail Cocktail is thought to have been an American invention from Prohibition times. It can sound rather strange in the present because of the close relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. Still, the relationship between the two countries wasn’t always this good. Originally, the United States favored France over what was still called the Kingdom of Great Britain in those times, which makes sense because France had played a very important role in enabling the success of the American Revolution. However, the two countries started drifting apart when the United States became less than enthused by the excesses of the French Revolution.

Of course, the United States didn’t just align with Great Britain right away. After all, there was the War of 1812, which was either the lowest point or one of the lowest points in their relationship. Furthermore, the two countries remained in contention over a number of issues over the subsequent century. For example, the United States didn’t want any of the European powers to have a foothold in the Western Hemisphere. Likewise, Great Britain was less than enthused about the emergence of a great power in the Western Hemisphere. It wasn’t until the late 19th century and early 20th century that the two countries started moving more and more in tune with one another, though there were still serious tensions between them in this period. This remained true even after the United States and Great Britain had fought on the same side during the First World War. The Americans disliked the British Empire, as shown by Ireland and then by India. Similarly, Great Britain was less than enthused by the prospect of a great power with international reach, particularly since it distrusted both its intentions and its reliability. Thanks to this, there was some hostile sentiment between the two countries during the interwar period, so the idea of a bunch of Americans coming up with the Lion’s Tail Cocktail during that time is far from being unbelievable.

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