It’s April Fools’ Day, that delightful day when you should assume that every single thing you read on the internet is an utter lie! So, why do we reserve the first day of April for pranks and shenanigans?
Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, there was the ancient Roman festival of Hilaria which was celebrated on March 25 and marked with masquerades and other japes, which eventually morphed into April Fool’s Day. Secondly, in the Middle Ages, the celebration of the new year coincided with the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. So, it’s believed that April Fool’s Day came from those who marked the start of a new year on January 1 making fun of those who still marked it in the springtime. So, it’s from these two different customs that we get the modern April Fool’s Day.
This April 1, why not a prank of a cocktail? The Croton Cocktail comes to us from Esquire Magazine‘s resident drinks czar David Wondrich. Wondrich claims that he was introduced to this drink by a bartender named Ed. The story goes that once Wondrich had been drinking heavily with another bartender, and after a few Martinis, Ed offered to mix him a Croton Cocktail. Wondrich asked the origin of the drink, and Ed simply replied that “If ya ast me, I’d hafta say was God invented the Croton Cocktail.”
Wondrich enjoyed four “icy and pure” Croton Cocktails that day, and pleaded with Ed to give him the recipe. Ed finally decided to relent and took Wondrich behind the bar and revealed the secret: “Okay. Shaker full of ice, see? Then ya go over to this silver thing here, turn this little handle, the one what sez ‘cold,’ and let some of the stuff comes out into yer shaker. Then ya shake it.” Yes, dear reader, the Croton Cocktail is simply water on the rocks. Where does the name come from? Well, the Croton Aqueduct was the first source of fresh, clean water in New York City; thus a glass of water is a Croton Cocktail.
Fill a highball glass or a pint glass with ice and water. Give it a quick stir and garnish it with a lemon wedge, if you wish.
Tomorrow: We go from Croton Aqueduct to the Fountain of Youth.