A cocktail has a lot of different meanings for different people, but what sets them apart from most other drinks and many other foods is how effectively cocktails tell stories.
They can tell practical jokes such as was the case with the Tom Collins, tales of success like the Manhattan or comedies of errors such as the Zombie.
However, one of the most incredible examples of this involves a war involving an entire group’s fight to exist, a bigoted singer, and one of the simplest and most popular cocktails in the world.
The Screwdriver is one of the few named cocktails that has just two base ingredients: vodka and orange juice. Its origin is shrouded in mystery, although it is believed to have been invented during the Second World War by Americans stationed in Turkey and China, who would mix orange juice with spirits.
Allegedly the reason for the name is that during these war-torn years, Americans would often not have a spare spoon to hand, and instead stirred it using a screwdriver.
However, the story of how it ended a singer’s career began a couple of decades later.
The singer Anita Bryant started to voice openly homophobic views as early as the late 1960s, but in 1977 she would be at the forefront of an exceptionally bigoted campaign.
That same year, Dade County in Florida passed a local law that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, one of the earliest legal protections for LGBTQ people in the country.
Ms Bryant despised the ruling and led an organisation named Save Our Children to try and repeal it based on ideas that had been widely discredited even back then, successfully getting the law repealed.
As a consequence, gay bars throughout the continent stopped serving screwdrivers due to her connection with the Florida Citrus Commission, and instead served an “Anita Bryant” made of vodka and apple juice.
This, alongside celebrity support of the LGBTQ community and other political activism ultimately cost Ms Bryant her career. Most of her major sponsors dropped her, including the Florida Citrus Commission and she would declare bankruptcy several times after multiple attempts to make a comeback stalled.
Once the FCC no longer supported her, gay bars started mixing screwdrivers again.
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