Context Travel offers a NYC walking tour examining the history of cocktails

by Lexa Pennington /
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Apr 16, 2011 / 0 comments

With the resurgence of classic cocktails, boutique ingredients, and the speakeasy atmosphere in urban bars world wide, Context Travel has launched a walking seminar chronicling the birth of the cocktail. Taking place in New York City and visiting a number of historic bars and other landmarks, the tour will be led by a group of experts from the Context network including a sociologist who has written extensively about the history of New York bar culture and a noted wine and spirits critic. Held as a “walking seminar” in Context’s typical form, the tour explores the history of Manhattan, from pre-prohibition to the 21st century, through the lens of one of America’s most significant culinary contributions.

The Birth of the Cocktail, a Drinkable History of New York tour focuses on the area of Midtown Manhattan moving south to the Flatiron District and examines the larger social themes that have shaped drinking in America, from industrialization to agricultural reform to urbanization and globalization. The walk also addresses historic interpretation and cocktail mythology, which have critically shaped cocktail lore worldwide.


The Birth of the Cocktail, a Drinkable History of New York


“The cocktail tells the history of America in miniature,” says Context manager for New York, Carolyn Macuga. “As we make our way southward in Manhattan, we trace social history from the 19th century to the present, through wars, civil unrest, technological innovation, and the projection of American power abroad.”

During this tour, participants will visit iconic hotel bars of the early 20th century, one of the city’s oldest and most famous speakeasies, as well as the most significant library and collection of antique cocktail books and barware in New York (and, perhaps, the world) before finishing with a tasting and “cocktail consultation” at a revival speakeasy presided over by a well-respected contemporary mixologist.

Birth of the Cocktail runs daily except Sunday. Group walks, which are limited to 6 people maximum, cost $65 per person. Private tours are priced at $300 for the group. There is an additional $18 pp charge for alcohol consumed during the course of the walk.


The Birth of the Cocktail, a Drinkable History of New York


Founded by National Geographic writer Paul Bennett and graphic designer Lani Bevacqua, Context is a network of English-speaking scholars and professionals, including art historians, writers, architects and gastronomes, who organize and lead walking seminars in thirteen world cities, including: Florence, Rome, Venice, Naples, Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Istanbul, and Athens. Travel + Leisure has named Context one of the top European tour companies for its innovative approach to travel and the depth of its programs. To learn more about Context, visit its website at: