It just occurred to me the other day as I sat looking at the glass jar shaped like a sitting bear full of cocktail umbrellas by my bed that cocktail umbrellas are completely and utterly pointless. like, really have no purpose at all. Other than of course making your drink a little shady and perhaps even a little bit fancy. But that's it. Who invented them? Why did someone, at some point in history, think an umbrella would be a nice addition to their beverage? It got me searching for answers, and I'll share them with you here.
The cocktail umbrella, it is thought, was first introduced to North America via Hawaii and other Polynesian isles through Trader Vic's, an apparently notorious little speakeasy down in San Francisco. And from here it spread into the ladies area in mens-clubs and bars, and eventually beyond the gender restraints and into full-blown society.
More interestingly, it does have a purpose. To shade your drink. I at first didn't think of this as a purpose at all. But now imagine yourself as an ice cube floating in a Long Island Ice Tea sitting on a pool tray by a deck chair in the sun. Now imagine a small paper umbrella in between you and the sun. See how much longer you last, cooling the drink? So it does have both an exotic past and a flamboyant future. Keep it alive, grab a packet at your local convenience store, and poke one in every drink.