How Did These Alcohols Get Their Names?

Pete Capella
(Photo: )


You love to drink. You consider yourself a bit of an expert when it comes to alcohol. You’re no rookie and you wouldn’t be caught dead with bottom-shelf liquor. Your drink is your own and you would never cheat on it. So why not learn a bit about it? Alcohol brands can have some strange names, and here are some interesting facts about their origins:


Beefeater Gin

The Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London are popularly known as the Beefeaters. They are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. In principle they are responsible for looking after any prisoners in the Tower and safeguarding the British Crown Jewels, but in practice they act as tour guides and are a tourist attraction in their own right.

The origins of the name Beefeater are uncertain, with various proposed derivations. The most likely story is that early on, the Warders’ payment was in the form of rations that included beef, mutton and veal. Various historical commentators have noted a preference for beef among the Yeomen Warders.


Budweiser Beer

Budweiser is a German noun that describes something or someone from the city of České Budějovice (referred to in German as Budweis) in Southern Bohemia, a part of present-day Czech Republic.

Beer brewing in Budweis dates back to the 13th century. Several hundred years later, two breweries were founded in the city that made beer, which they called “Budweiser” (both beers were from the city of Budweis, which was then a part of the Kingdom of Bohemia). In 1876, the American brewer Anheuser-Busch began making a beer which it also called “Budweiser”. This led to the “Budweiser trademark dispute” in 1907 between the beer companies, both of which were claiming trademark rights to the name “Budweiser”. The end result was that Anheuser-Busch was only allowed to market their beer as Budweiser in North America.


Ketel One Vodka

In the mid 19th century, the Nolet family (who has been distilling alcohol in Holland since 1691),  brought in steam power to their distillery and installed their first coal-fired alembic copper pot still. It was called “Distilleerketel #1”, and that was how the brand got its name. To this day they use the same copper pot still.


Old Crow Bourbon Whiskey

Dr. James C. Crow was a Scottish immigrant who started distilling what would come to be Old Crow in Frankfort, Kentucky, in the 1830s. Crow made whiskey for various employers, which was sold as “Crow” or, as it aged, “Old Crow” — the brand acquired its reputation from the latter. Dr. Crow died in 1856, and while W.A. Gaines and Company kept the name and continued to distill the bourbon according to his recipe, the original distillation formula died with its creator. The last remaining stock of Old Crow acquired near-legendary status, and offering drinks of it reportedly secured a re-election in the early 1900’s for Joseph Clay Stiles Blackburn, a senator for Kentucky. Old Crow’s logo, a crow perched atop grains of barley, is rumored to stem as a symbol bridging the North and South during the Civil War. 

Share on Twitter