LEWISTON, N.Y. - You probably know that Hamburg lays claim to the title of "birthplace of the hamburger", but did you know that a Western New York community claims to have given birth to the cocktail?
In the early 1800's, one of the favorite places in the Village of Lewiston was Hustler's Tavern. It was so popular that in 1813, when the British forces came across the Niagara River to burn down Lewiston in retaliation of the U.S. attack on Niagara-On-The-Lake, Hustler's Tavern was the only building they spared.
Around that time, the American troops brought Catherine Hustler, the tavern-keeper, several roosters and hens taken in their raid on the British. They asked her to roast them for a victory dinner. As she plucked the birds, she placed the tail feathers in mugs and glasses on the bar. Legend has it that one of the soldiers asked Catherine for a drink in one of the glasses with a cock's tail feather, and the name was born.
Catherine continued to serve a drink containing a cock's tail. She called it a "gin mixture that warms the body and soul and is fit to be served in a vessel of diamonds".
The local tradition may have gone unnoticed, had it not been for the extended visit of James Fenimore Cooper. While he was in Lewiston, he wrote his book "The Spy". It is considered the first widely distributed novel in American history. He based part of the story on his hosts, the Hustlers, and even used the term "cocktail" in the book.
Another unknown story of Western New York.