cocktail fork

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



In this table setting, a cocktail fork has been placed beside the glass on the plate, which is used to serve an appetizer such as a fruit cocktail or shrimp cocktail.
A shrimp cocktail in a glass with a cocktail fork next to it.

From cocktail +‎ fork; cocktail may refer either to:[1]

  • a dish consisting of small pieces of fruit, vegetables, or seafood with a dressing, usually served chilled in a glass as an appetizer; or
  • a mixed alcohol beverage such as a martini, which is often garnished with an olive.



cocktail fork (plural cocktail forks)

  1. A small fork usually with two or three tines, used for eating dishes served as appetizers (such as fruit cocktails and shrimp cocktails), and for picking up olives and other small snacks.
    • 1942, Ruth M. Lusby, “Unit 1. Preparing and Closing the Serving Station.”, in Training Restaurant Sales Personnel: A Teacher’s Manual for Use in the Vocational Training of Restaurant Sales Personnel (Vocational Division Bulletin; no. 222; Business Education Series; no. 15), Washington, D.C.: Federal Security Agency; U.S. Office of Education; United States Government Printing Office, OCLC 3680578, part IV (Work of Table-service Salespersons), page 86:
      Oyster and cocktail forks are placed at the extreme right of the cover beyond the teaspoons, or they may be laid across the right side of the service plate underlining the cocktail glass or the oyster service.
    • 1950 April 19, Russell V[ernon] Mack, “Russian Crab Imports: Extension of Remarks of Hon. Russell V. Mack of Washington”, in Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 81st Congress, Second Session: Appendix (United States House of Representatives), volume 96, part 14, Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, ISSN 0363-7239, OCLC 13530005, page A2862, column 2:
      No fairy tale this. Just the story of Soviet slave labor in icy camps, dumping millions of pounds of fish for your dainty cocktail forks each month—and so beginning to kill off a multi-million dollar American fishing industry, canneries, boatbuilding and gear production.
    • 1986, “Your Meats”, in Ruth Berolzheimer, editor, Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook (A Perigee Book), New York, N.Y.: Berkley Publishing Group, published March 1988, pages 944 and 945:
      [page 944, column 1] Cocktail fork—used for sea foods. It is a short, slender fork about ½ inch wide at the prong end of the fork. [] [page 945, column 3] On the left are all the forks except the cocktail fork, which is laid to the extreme right of the knives when placed.
    • 1990, Judith Martin, “Dealing with the Public”, in Miss Manners’ Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium (A Fireside Book), New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 364:
      We just returned from a cruise where there were eleven pieces of flatware on the table for dinner: three knives and a soup spoon to the right of the plate, four forks to the left, and a cocktail fork, teaspoon, and demitasse spoon above the plate. Could you please explain the function of each?
    • 1991 December, Denis Jaricot, “The Art of the Hors d’Oeuvre”, in Paul Obis Jr., editor, Vegetarian Times, number 172, Oak Park, Ill.: Vegetarian Times, ISSN 0164-8497, OCLC 755608813, page 26, column 3:
      Mock Meatballs [] Serve in a shallow serving dish with cocktail forks or toothpicks.
    • 1998 February 1, T[homas] C[oraghessan] Boyle, “One Slit’s Enough”, in Riven Rock, New York, N.Y.: Viking, →ISBN, page 234:
      [H]ow could you talk a raving lunatic out of drinking his own urine or stabbing his invalid grandmother a hundred times with a cocktail fork?
    • 2005, “Fish & Shellfish”, in Lori Fox, Cheri Olerud, and Kristi Hart, editors, Betty Crocker Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Cook Today, 10th edition, Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley Publishing, →ISBN, page 257:
      To remove [crab] meat, twist off claws and legs; use a nutcracker to crack shells at the joints. Remove meat with a small cocktail fork or nutpick. Break the body; remove any remaining meat.
    • 2005, Carolyn Miller; Sharon Smith, “North Beach/Chinatown”, in Savoring San Francisco: Recipes from the City’s Neighborhood Restaurants, 2nd edition, San Francisco, Calif.: Silverback Books, →ISBN, page 72:
      Remove the shrimp from the marinade and set them on a cutting board. Using a sharp, thin knife, cut each shrimp in half lengthwise, working from head to tail. Stick each halved shrimp onto the end of a cocktail fork.
    • 2017, Alison McGhee, Never Coming Back, New York, N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, →ISBN, page 10:
      My mother had always eaten straight out of jars and cans, with a cocktail fork as her sole utensil. It was one of her peculiarities. / "Hi, Ma." / Her cocktail fork was balanced between her thumb and index finger, close to her mouth, as if a joint that had just been passed to her and she wasn't sure what to do with it.




  1. ^ cocktail, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2021; “cocktail, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further reading[edit]