The umbrella is fashioned out of paper, which can be patterned, with cardboard ribs. The ribs are made from cardboard in order to provide flexibility and to hinge so the umbrella can be pulled shut much like an ordinary umbrella. A small plastic retaining ring is often fashioned against the stem, a toothpick, in order to prevent the umbrella from folding up spontaneously. Also note that there is a sleeve of folded newspaper under the collar to act as a spacer. This newspaper is usually Chinese, Indian or Japanese hinting at the umbrella's origin.
The cocktail umbrella is believed to have arrived on the bar scene as early as 1932, courtesy of Victor Bergeron's Polynesian-themed restaurant Trader Vic's in San Francisco. According to his son, Victor J. Bergeron III, the elder Bergeron borrowed the idea for umbrellas in drinks from the now defunct Don the Beachcomber restaurants. He believes that they had been available in Chinese restaurants prior to that. Newspaper column The Straight Dope visited the topic in 2000 and did not find any evidence that putting umbrellas in drinks was a Polynesian innovation. The column suggested but did not confirm that the umbrellas were a Chinese-American invention.
- Adams, Cecil (November 17, 2000). "Who invented the cocktail umbrella — and why?". The Straight Dope.
- Media related to Cocktail umbrellas at Wikimedia Commons
- "DIY - How to make cocktail umbrellas". Handmade magazine. 2007-02-15. Archived from the original on 2008-07-20.
- "A long-overdue tribute to the cocktail umbrella By Eric Johnson". Glorious Shades. 1999-06-17.