phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

On the rocks

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 01, 2009 at 11:07

In Reply to: On the rocks posted by Scott on November 01, 2009 at 10:42:

: The phrase 'on the rocks', as in drinks. Is it true that the Romans used cooled stone in drinks?

I've never heard this suggested, and it is exceptionally unlikely. If you have somewhere cold where you can put things to keep cool, you wouldn't waste time and effort collecting pieces of stone and keeping them there to cool warm drinks - you'd put the drinks there!

What the Romans did do was collect ice and snow in winter and stored them underground all year, so rich people could have ice-cooled drinks and desserts in summer. Calling ice cubes "rocks" is simply a joke, and not a reference to some ancient Roman custom. The more so as "on the rocks" dates only from the late 1940s; how many 1940s American drinkers and bartenders do you suppose were students of ancient Roman drinking habits? (VSD)