Raising a glass is one of the most iconic ways to mark a momentous occasion, whether it’s somber, celebratory, or somewhere in between. A toast can be both a formal acknowledgment of guests of honor or a lighthearted glass clinking among friends when they're out for cocktails. However, you probably don’t know the origin story of this long-held tradition. The following guide details some highlights of this practice.
What Are the Origins of The Toast?
Honor Through Drinks in Ancient Times
The precise origins of the toast aren’t exactly known. Ancient Greeks practiced pouring out a portion of their drinks in honor of the gods, so historians believe it was an easy jump to drinking in honor of companions. Ancient Hebrews, Egyptians, and tribes—such as the Huns—all practiced the ritual, as well. Ulysses even toasted Achilles’ health in The Odyssey, the epic poem that is believed to have been penned by Homer during the eighth century B.C.
How the Toast Got Its Name
While there is currently a wide range of modern cocktails, beers, and other drinks to imbibe, early Romans had a much smaller selection. They would add toasted breadcrumbs to their drinks to offset the bitterness of wine, which led to the naming of the practice. It was even declared by the Roman Senate that everyone should toast to the health of Augustus prior to every meal.
Eventually, the toast caught on throughout Europe, and clinking glasses would soon accompany the practice. Some legends say this action was a test to detect poison—if some of your beverage spilled into a fellow drinker’s cup, they’d only drink it if it was poison-free.
However, this claim has never been backed, and it’s more likely that the ritual was simply a way to ensure a drink was thoroughly mixed. Fortunately, modern cocktails are blended by the crafter or bartender, but many people continue the tradition for show.
Whether you are celebrating a toast-worthy occasion or looking to check out some Happy Hour specials, head to Western Reserve Distillers in Lakewood, OH. This family-owned and -operated organic craft distillery has an inviting atmosphere where you and your friends can enjoy a handcrafted cocktail or farm-fresh bite to eat. They create their spirits with products grown on local farms within a 150-mile radius of their facility. They specialize in a wide range of award-winning organic clear spirits which include vodka, gin, rum and blanco and award-winning barrel aged spirits that include bourbon, reposado, rye and wheat whiskeys. View their product selection online or call (216) 333-9291 to speak to a friendly team member.