What is a Swizzle Stick?
Besides something fun to say, a swizzle stick is a small stick used to stir mixed drinks! Originally swizzle sticks were created in the 18th century at a rum plantation in the West Indies. Thin branches from a native tree were broken off and used to stir Bermudian cocktails called Rum Swizzles. This cocktail earned it’s name not from the ingredients used, but by the whisking motion while making it - swizzling.
By the 1920s, swizzle sticks made their way to England where Queen Victoria and the ladies of the court would use them to decrease the carbonation in their champagne.
In 1934, inventor Jay Sindler was enjoying a martini and needed a way to remove the olive from his drink without using his fingers. He sketched out a rough idea, got a patent and went into production. Since prohibition had ended and plastic production was beginning to increase in the US, the timing was perfect for his idea. In the 1950s and 60s, more creative options were offered as molding technology and plastics were developed, establishments included their name or logos and tried to outdo each other. Swizzle sticks were everywhere in this era, but unfortunately by the 1970s wine was beginning to be embraced over cocktails as a cheaper alternative.
Today, custom swizzle sticks aren’t commonly seen as a promotional item, but they remain highly collectable and even have an international association that meets annually. As craft cocktails and tiki bars have had a resurgence, so has the swizzle stick to fit themed drinks. It is such a fun way to mix your drink or tell them apart at a party. They also are a great way to stir your lemonade or cream into your coffee.