Archive for the ‘gaz regan’s library’ Category

Savoy Cocktail Book, 1933 Signed Copy

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

If memory serves I bought this rare baby in 2012 when I was visiting London to help judge a cocktail competition for Courvoisier cognac. I was approached during the lunch break by a man who told me that he’d just seen a signed copy of the 1933 edition of the Savoy Cocktail book in a nearby antiquarian bookstore. He graciously offered to take me there.

I can’t remember the name of the gent who pointed me in this direction, but I well remember him telling me that his biggest claim to fame was that his wife had been the model they used for Jessica Rabbit in the cartoon movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She must have been quite a babe!

The bookstore in question was owned and run by Natalie Galustian who now works, I believe, for the DHH Literary Agency in London. She and I haggled a little, but we soon agreed on a price, so I handed over my credit card and the deal was done.

Here’s a picture of the page that was signed by the illustrious Harry Craddock. “Here’s How!” was a common phrase heard in the bars of yesteryear, and Craddock often used it in his signature.  It’s dated February 22 (or 23?), 1936, three years after this edition was published.

The Savoy Cocktail Book has been described as the Bhagavad Gita of cocktail books by English writer Alice Lascelles, and it contains many great cocktail quotes. Underneath the recipe for the Corpse Reviver (No. 1), for instance, is a note advising the reader that the drink was “To be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed”  The note under the next recipe for the Corpse Reviver (No 2), however, warns that “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

Craddock’s best known quote from this book, though, can be found in the foreword under the heading


Hint Number 6 instructs

Drink your Cocktail as soon as possible. Harry Craddock was once asked what was the best was to drink a Cocktail.

“Quickly,” replied that great man, while it’s still laughing at you.




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JE Doherty & Co: A Liquor Dealer’s Pamphlet, circa 1900

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

JE Doherty & Co: A Liquor Dealer’s Pamphlet, circa 1900

Here’s a promotional pamphlet, circa late 1890s or early 1900s*, published by J. E. Doherty, a liquor dealer in Boston .  Old Crow whiskey was going for $3 a gallon at the time, and for $5.50, you could nab a gallon of 1872 Hennessy cognac.  How we yearn for those good old days.

On the inside of the cover of this document was a letter from the company about one of their products, Early Dawn whiskey.  Here’s how it’s described:

“We are the proprietors of Early Dawn Whiskey.  It is very seldom that one finds a twelve-year-old whiskey passing over the bar of a drinking house, but the writer had that pleasure a few days ago.  It was the famous Early Dawn brand.

We have some of that whiskey on our sideboard, and we only speak the truth when we say that we approach that venerable spirit with reverence and a due appreciation of its worth and elegance.  With Bob Ingersoll, we can grow enthusiastic and say, “Such whiskey is a wonder of the distiller’s art.  Inhale it, and you have the bouquet of a thousand flowers, rich, full and enchanting.  Drink it, and you are filled with the spirit of contentment and joy; you breathe the balmy air of the fragrant, billowy grain fields of the Great West; you hear the sweet, clear song of the lark as he springs heavenward at the break of day; the robin’s melodious tune; the music of the soft summer breeze through the wavering corn; the harvest song and the cricket’s merry chirp.  It can bring joy to the sorrowing, hope to those in dispair [sic]–make them feel that there is still something left in life to live for.  It is a friend without enemies, and a liquid delight which chance gives to a few men.”  In short, it is an all around, royal good whiskey, and we would like to be condemned to drink as good the remainder of our days.”

* Boston Post from Boston, Massachusetts on March 20, 1897: Notice is hereby given, under Chapter 100 of the Public Statutes, that Joseph F.. and Mary J. Doherty, as J. E. Doherty & Co., have applied for a license to sell Intoxicating liquors as Victuallers of the First Class and Wholesale Dealers of the Fourth Class B, at Nos. 1855 and 1857 Washington street.

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An Anthology of Cocktails together with Selected Observations by a Distinguished Gathering and Diverse Thoughts for Great Occasions

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

An Anthology of Cocktails together with Selected Observations by a Distinguished Gathering and Diverse Thoughts for Great Occasions.  (No author credited)  London: Booth’s Distilleries, Ltd.  (No date—probably 1940s)


Here’s a promotional booklet printed by Booth’s Distilleries, LTD, that showcases drinks attributed to people who were celebrities at the time—probably the 1940s—of publication.  Dame Sybil Thorndike, a British actress (1882 – 1976) is the only name I recognize, but the Earl of Westmorland, The Countess of Oxford and Asquith, a certain Professor Low, and 15 more people are pictured within.




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Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Official Mixer’s Guide, 1934

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

I have a collection of different editions of this book that stretch from 1934 to 1958.  Here’s a pictures of my earliest copy, and a few quotes and observances:

Duffy Official Mixers Manual 1940 copy

One of the first new bartending guides to hit the shelves after Repeal was Patrick Gavin Duffy’s The Official Mixing Guide (1934), and Duffy’s recipe for “Martini Cocktail (dry)” called for two parts gin, one part French (dry) vermouth, and one dash of orange bitters.

Patrick Gavin Duffy, head bartender at New York’s Ashland House for 12 years prior to Prohibition, and the man who claimed to have “first brought the highball to America, in 1895,” wrote, “With very few exceptions, cocktails should be stirred and not shaken.”

One of the first new bartending guides to hit the shelves after Repeal was Patrick Gavin Duffy’s The Official Mixing Guide (1934), and Duffy’s recipe for “Martini Cocktail (dry)” called for two parts gin, one part French (dry) vermouth, and one dash of orange bitters.

New York bartender Patrick Gavin Duffy introduced the Monkey Gland to America in a 1934 book, The Official Mixer’s Manual., Duffy inexplicably chose Bénédictine, a honeyed herbal liqueur said to have been developed in 1510 by the Bénédictine monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli, to use as an accent in the drink instead of absinthe. As a result, two versions of the cocktail, both with merit but very different from each other, are recognized as being authentic. Thus the English Monkey Gland takes an absinthe substitute, and the American version calls for Bénédictine.

There are two legitimate Monkey Gland Cocktails, one of which takes absinthe as an accent and was detailed in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930.  The other, which calls for Benedictine instead of absinthe, is found in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s Official Mixer’s Guide, 1934.  Craddock, based in London, had access to absinthe, but Duffy changed the recipe to make it easier on American bartenders since absinthe was banned at the time in the U.S.A.  Both versions are well worth trying.

Apart from the fact that Duffy categorized his recipes by the base liquor, whereas Craddock used the alphabetical approach, there are many instances that point to Duffy using Craddock’s work, at least as a guide, but the one major difference lies in the use of absinthe which was, and still is, legal in England, but had been outlawed in the U.S.A. prior to prohibition.  Duffy simply substituted Benedictine in drinks such as The Monkey Gland Cocktail, and since that time various books have detailed one or the other recipe, depending on which book has been used for reference.

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Early American Beverages by John Hull Brown, 1966

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Early American Beverages by John Hull Brown, 1966

Early American Beverages - Copy

Here’s a book I’ve had for many years.  It’s possible that I got it when I worked at the North Star Pub in Manhattan, which means that I acquired it at some point between 1988 and 1992, but I don’t remember for sure.  It’s filled with fascination information about booze, and about temperance drinks, in our dim and distant past.

Early American Beverages bar sketches - Copy

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Valentine’s Manual of Old New York, Henry Collins Brown, 1927

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Valentine’s Manual of Old New York, Henry Collins Brown, 1927

Valentines Manual 1927 New York in the Elegant Eighties - Copy

I own a few editions of Valentine’s Manuals, but this is my favorite.  Here’s just one of the fabulous quotes that can be found in this book:

An Outrageous Invasion Of Personal Rights

“The introduction of the cash register was regarded by bartenders as an outrageous invasion of personal rights akin to the tyrannies of George, the Third.  Previous to its coming, bartenders wore diamonds and after a reasonable period of employment, went into business for themselves.  The ‘knock down’ was considered a perfectly legitimate source of profit.  ‘Can I borrow a pair of pinchers?’ says a character in a contemporary variety sketch to a stage saloon keeper.  ‘Take my two bartenders’ is the ironic reply.  The better class cafes [accent] attempted to forestall the practice by giving the patron a check which he paid to a cashier at the cigar counter.  Of course a firm and touching friendship immediately sprang up between cashier and bartender with a coincidental return of the checks to original sources, and a clandestine division of spoils.”  Valentine’s Manual of Old New York by Henry Collins Brown, 1927.

Valentines Manual 1927 New York in the Elegant Eighties title page - Copy

Valentines Manual 1927 New York in the Elegant Eighties bar sketches - Copy

Valentines Manual 1927 New York in the Elegant Eighties Bowery - Copy



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So Red the Nose, Sterling North, Carl Kroch, Editors, 1935

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

So Red the Nose, Sterling North, Carl Kroch, Editors, 1935

So Red the Nose - Copy

I’m not sure how I came across this book, but there’s a good chance that I got it from Bonnie Slotnik, the fabulous NY antiquarian book-seller who supplied me, and a few other enthusiasts, with old drinks books whenever she came across them.  We were notified in rotation.

This is a very entertaining book, complete with cocktails from lots of people who were famous at the time of publication, and great line-drawings that accompany every recipe.

So Red the Nose death in the afternoon - Copy

So Red the Nose fun in bed - Copy

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The Gentleman’s Companion by Charles H. Baker, Jr., 1946

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

The Gentleman’s Companion by Charles H. Baker, Jr., 1946

Gentlemans Companion title page - Copy

I found this baby, complete with it’s sister, a cookbook, in a fairly perfect boxed edition in Minneapolis in the early 1990s.  I’d priced it in Manhattan and it was just too expensive for me at the time, but the bookstore where I found it had the whole set on sale for a mere $25.  I couldn’t wait to pay and get out of the store before anyone realized that it was worth far more than a double-sawbuck and a fin!

Gentlemans Companion Mint Julep - Copy

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The U.K.B.G. Guide to Drinks, United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild, 1955

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

The U.K.B.G. Guide to Drinks, United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild, 1955

UKBG Guide to Drinks 1955 - Copy

I got this book in the late 1990s when Paul Pacult and I were broadcasting The Happy Hour a syndicated talk-radio show that was on air for two very sweet years.  The late, great Graham Nown, and English writer, and a good friend, regularly sent us very entertaining 8-minute segments that we featured on the show, and his daughter, Rosie, worked at an antiquarian book store in the U.K.  It was Rosie who asked if I had any interest in this classic book, and that;s how I acquired it.  Very interesting and entertaining it is, too.

UKBG Guide to Drinks 1955 glasses - Copy

UKBG Guide to Drinks 1955 bar equipment - Copy

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Jones’ Complete Barguide by Stan Jones, 1977

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

  Jones’ Complete Barguide by Stan Jones, 1977

jones complete bar guide - Copy

The Well Trained Mixologist

“While this book has been out of print since the 1970’s, it is no doubt that at it’s time of publishing it’s over 4,000 recipes were an accurate accounting of most, if not all, of the recipes that had come before it.

“The recipes are presented in a rather sparse and jumbled fashion, with little in the way of details that might explain the tips and tricks as to how to make them properly. The well trained mixologist however will be able to ferret out the good from the bad, and be able to come away with a new collection of recipes that they can add to their repertoire.” Robert “DrinkBoy” Hess


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Drinking with Dickens by Cedric Dickens, 1983

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

 Drinking with Dickens by Cedric Dickens, 1983

drinking with dickens - Copy

If memory serves I found this little gem in an antique shop in the UK when I was visiting my Mum, circa 1990.  Here are some entertaining quotes from the book:

This One Is In Your Honour

“Into a mixing glass full of ice pour at least a quarter bottle of dry gin.  Stir and strain into two large goblets.  Add–two puffs from a scent spray containing French vermouth.  I watched this being mixed by a friend in New York.  When I gently remonstrated, he said ‘Gee, Cedric, this one is in your honour; I usually pass the cork over the glass!'”  Drinking with Dickens by Cedric Dickens, published by Elvendon Press, 1980.

The Solemnity Was Of Very Short Duration

“At his second visit to America, when in Washington in February, 1868, Dickens, replying to a letter in which Irving was named, thus describes the last meeting and leave-taking to which he alludes above:

‘Your reference to my dear friend Washington Irving renews the vivid impressions reawakened in my mind at Baltimore but the other day.  I saw his fine face for the last time in that city. He came there from New York to pass a day or two with me before I went westward ; and they were made among the most memorable of my life by his delightful fancy and genial humor.

Some unknown admirer of his books and mine sent to the hotel a most enormous mint-julep, wreathed with flowers. We sat, one on either side of it, with great solemnity (it filled a respectably-sized round table), but the solemnity was of very short duration. It was quite an enchanted julep, and carried us among innumerable people and places that we both knew.

The julep held out far into the night, and my memory never saw him afterwards otherwise than as bending over it, with his straw, with an attempted air of gravity (after some anecdote involving some wonderfully droll and delicate observation of character), and then, as his eye caught mine, melting into that captivating laugh of his, which was the brightest and best I have ever heard.’”  The Life of Charles Dickens : 1812-1842, by John Forster,  1873.

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Café Royal Cocktail Book, Compiled by W.J. Tarling,1937

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

 Café Royal Cocktail Book, Compiled by W.J. Tarling, 1937

cafe royal - Copy

I found this classic beauty in a used book store in Upstate New York in the late 1990s. I can’t remember exactly how much I paid for it, but I’m pretty sure that I got it for less than ten bucks. luck find, huh?

The First Real American Bar

“The first real American bar to be opened in London was at the Criterion Restaurant about 1878 with Leo Engel as bartender.  Both the bar and bartender were imported from America and some wit of the times remarked that, ‘although the carved eagles, that adorned the bar, all sat up above, they had their human prototype working unceasingly below.’”  Café Royal Cocktail Book, 1937.

An Unskillfully Mixed Drink

“In the morning the merchant, the lawyer, or the Methodist deacon takes his cocktail.  Suppose it is not properly compounded?  The whole day’s proceedings go crooked because the man himself feels wrong from the effects of an unskillfully mixed drink.”  Café Royal Cocktail Book, 1937.

The Famous Jerry Thomas

“[The cocktail] was brought to England in 1859 by the famous Jerry Thomas, who visited London, Southampton and Liverpool exhibiting his art with the aid of a solid silver set of bar utensils valued at £1,000.” Café Royal Cocktail Book, 1937.

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The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Albert Stevens Crockett, 1935

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

 The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Albert Stevens Crockett, 1935

Old Waldorf front cover

 “[The Old-Fashioned] was brought to the Old Waldorf in the days of its ‘sit-down’ Bar, and was introduced by, or in honor of, Col. James E. Pepper, of Kentucky, proprietor of a celebrated whiskey of the period.  It was said to have been the invention of a bartender at the famous Pendennis Club in Lousiville, of which Col. Pepper was a member.”  The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, Albert Stevens Crockett, 1935.

Old Waldorf Bar


“The Rickey owes its name to Colonel ‘Joe’ Rickey . . . [who] had been a lobbyist in Washington, and as such used to buy drinks for members of Congress in the glamorous days before they had come to depend upon the discreet activities of gentlemen in green hats to keep them wet while they voted dry.  The drink was invented and named for him at Shoemaker’s, famous in Washington as a Congressional hangout.”  The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, by Albert Stevens Crockett, 1935.

Old Waldorf interior toast - Copy

“The Waldorf  began to fill up with recently manicured iron workers from Pittsburgh, loggers from Duluth, copper miners from Michigan, brewers from Milwaukee and St. Louis, and other gentry who thought a cotillion was something to eat, but who could sign checks with numbers on them as long as a Santa Fe freight train . . . The advent of the Waldorf-Astoria marked the partial eclipse of the famous Delmonico’s, still at 26th Street.” In the Golden Nineties, Henry Collins Brown, 1928.

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The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide by Charley Mahoney, 1912. Or could it be 1914?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide by Charley Mahoney, 1912 (or is it?)

1 cover hoffman house 1912 - Copy

A learned man took a look at this book recently, and near the back, among a few pages of advertisements, is an ad dated 1914, so although 1912 is noted as the publication date, I think that this one must have been printed in 1914 at the earliest.  If you know anything about this, please leave a comment.

This one is, perhaps, my most treasured book.  I know of only two others in existence, and one of them is just half of the book.  I found this in an antique shop in Rhinebeck, New York, circa 1997.  The book is in surprisingly good condition for a paperback that’s almost 100 years old.  There’s scotch tape holding the cover together, but the interior is in pretty good shape save for the fact that there are a few dog-ears toward the back.

There are many photographs in this gem, of bartenders, of drinks, and of medals awarded to various recipe creators.  The book was published by Richard K. Fox, publisher of a popular tabloid of the time, The Police Gazette. I found in my files that I’d written down many quotes from this book, so I’ll post them here for all to see:

“What has done more than perhaps anything else to stimulate the mixing of modern drinks by American bartenders has been the offer of the Police Gazette to give annual medals to the three members of the craft who send in the best recipe during the year.  This competition has been carried on for the past seven years, during which time thousands of recipes for drinks, new as well as old, have been sent to the Gazette office and printed in the columns of that paper. . . so the up-to-date man can keep posted on what other men in the trade are doing.”

“The mere mixing and serving of drinks does not alone fix a barman’s value, and temperament, disposition, and  magnetism have a lot to do with it.  It stands to reason that the man who draws and can control custom if worth more than the dummy who is merely an automatom.”

“The average drinking man wants to be served promptly and well.  He wants to be served promptly and with consideration–not necessarily servility–and to feel he is getting the worth of his money.  Don’t let any man go away dissatisfied, even if you lose by it.  The loss of profit on one drink or a dozen drinks is nothing if a good customer is gained.”

“Tips for Bartenders: It is important that he should always be cheerful and answer all questions put to him in as intelligent manner as possible.

Assume now that a customer has stepped up to the bar, set before him at once a glass of water, and inquire as to his wants.  If it is a mixed drink, prepare it above the counter as expeditiously as possible.  Do all the work in plain view , for there is nothing to conceal, and do it as it ought to be done, without any attempt at unusual elaboration.

Don’t chew tobacco or smoke while on duty.

Don’t dress loud or wear conspicuous jewelry

Don’t, under any circumstances, drink with customers while on duty.

When your tour of duty is completed, don’t hang around; get out at once.

Familiarity breeds contempt; don’t get too chummy with people on short notice.

Look out for hangers on; they are always knockers.”

“[The bartender] should know how to treat a man who has drunk too much, and he should be careful not to abuse him.  There are times when money laid on the bar should not be accepted.  It is a difficult matter to lay down rules for such cases–in fact, it is impossible.”

“Bear in mind that a place for everything will save a lot of time, trouble, and confusion, especially behind a bar, and no rush should interfere with this system. . . . too much cannot be said about [this subject] as it is of immense importance.”

“There are a certain number of men behind the bar who think they know it all, and who turn out drinks irrespective of the individual taste of the men most to be considered–those who pay for them and drink them.”

3 title page hoffman house 1912 - Copy 6 charles s mahoney hoffman house 1912 - Copy

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Louis’ Mixed Drinks by Louis Muckensturm, 1906

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Louis’ Mixed Drinks by Louis Muckensturm, 1906

Louis Muckensturm cover - Copy

This was one of the first books in my collection–I think that Bonnie Slotnick, an intrepid New York rare book seller, found it for me in the early 1990s.

This is one of the first books to detail the Dry Martini Cocktail.  The recipe calls for 2 liqueur-glasses (ounces) Dry Gin, 1 liqueur glass French (dry) vermouth, a dash of curaçao, and 2 dashes of orange bitters.  The Martini Cocktail (not dry) in this books is made with Old Tom gin, Italian (sweet) vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters.  This is a favorite book of mine for research.

Louis Muckensturm title page and headshot - Copy

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The New Police Gazette Bartenders Guide, 1901

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

The New Police Gazette Bartenders Guide, 1901

police gazette 1901 - Copy

This is a very tatty paperback, but it’s also very, very rare.  The back cover is detached, someone has written “Check this against Jerry Thomas” on the cover, and a few recipes have been circled in pen, but the book has some beautiful pictures inside, and I love the following quote:

“A few preliminary hints for beginners are manifestly essential in a work of this kind, which we hope he will study to advantage.  Politeness and affability cost nothing, and a nice perception of what is due a customer is as necessary to success in the profession as any other detail of the business.”

What follows this is, at least partially, ripped off from Jerry Thomas’ 1887 book, The Bar-Tender’s Guide or How to Mix all Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks.  The recipes here are typical for the time, but there’s nothing revolutionary here.  The Police Gazette, by the by, was a very popular tabloid that was packed with sensationalism and scandals  The paper regularly saluted bartenders and published their recipes.

Police Gazette 1901 line drawing Manhattan - Copy Police Gazette 1901 line drawing Mint Julep - Copy Police Gazette 1901 line drawing Tom & Jerry - Copy

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The Flowing Bowl: When and What to Drink by William Schmidt, 1892

Monday, March 9th, 2015

The Flowing Bowl: When and What to Drink by William Schmidt, 1892



“[Schmidt was a] German immigrant who sailed over a couple years after the Civil War, he worked in Chicago for a time and then came to New York. There, in a ramshackle bar next to the Brooklyn Bridge, a reporter from The New York Sun discovered him. For the next 16 years, he was the most famous bartender in America.  Any man lucky enough to try one of his elaborate, carefully thought-out concoctions walked away convinced. Schmidt may have been a bit odd, but he was the first bartender to gain renown for inventing his own drinks: the first “bar chef.” David Wondrich.

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How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas, 1862

Monday, March 9th, 2015

How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas, 1862

Jerry Thomas 1862 Cover

Jerry Thomas 1862 Title Page

Jerry Thomas 1862 Brandy Crusta

This book, the world’s very first cocktail recipe book, entered my library in the mid-1990s after I met John Martin Taylor, aka Hoppin’ John ( on a press trip to Europe where we sampled olive oils of various hues and guises.  Once John knew that we were on the lookout for this tome, he made it his business—quite literally—to find us a copy.  If memory serves we paid $125 for it.  A steal at today’s prices, and a decent price back then, too.  There aren’t very many copies of this book around.

In How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion, sometimes just called “the 1862 book” among cocktail geeks, we find the Brandy Crusta, and here we have a template for a host of classics.  The drink is made with brandy, curaçao, simple syrup, bitters, and lemon juice.  It’s basically a Sidecar with bitters,  and a Sidecar belongs in the New Orleans Sour family (so named—by me—because the Crusta in Thomas’s book is credited to a certain “Santina, a celebrated Spanish caterer” who worked in the Big Easy) since it calls for a base spirit, an orange flavored liqueur, and citrus juice.  Other drinks in this family include the Margarita, the Cosmopolitan, the Kamikaze, and the Lemon Drop.  This book is widely sought after for myriad reasons.  The Brandy Crusta, in my opinion, is the most important drink therein.

Some Quotes from the book:

“We very well remember seeing one day in London, in the rear of the Bank of England, a small drinking saloon that had been set up by a peripatetic American, at the door of which was placed a board covered with the unique titles of American mixed drinks supposed to be prepared within that limited establishment. The ‘Connecticut Eye-openers’ and ‘Alabama fog-cutters’ together with  lightening-smashes, and ‘thunderbolt-cocktails,’ created a profound sensation in the crowd assembled to peruse the Nectarian bill of fare, if they did not produce custom.”

“For the perfection of this education, the name, alone, of Jerry Thomas is a sufficient guarantee . . . His very name is synonymous in the lexicon of mixed drinks, with all that is rare and original.”

Excerpted from The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan, 2003:

“Jerry Thomas was born in 1832, and before he was 30 years old he had visited England and France where he demonstrated his skills using a set of solid silver bar tools.  Prior to this he had tended bar in New Haven, Connecticut, and served as First Assistant to the Principal Bartender at the El Dorado, the first gambling saloon in San Francisco, and a barroom complete with curtained booths where certain ladies of the night plied their trade, grand chandeliers, and huge mirrors on the backbar—the backbar being a collective term for the shelves where bottles of liquor are displayed, mirrors, drawers, and cupboards, etc., was known as the “altar” to many barkeeps of the time.  One customer described the walls there as being filled with ‘lascivious oil paintings of nudes in abandoned postures.’ . . .

“Ten cocktails are contained in the recipe section of Thomas’s 1862 book, and all of them contain bitters.  Indeed, it would be decades before anyone dared give the name “cocktail” to a drink made without this ingredient.. 

Various and sundry other drinks still popular today are also detailed in this tome:  the Champagne Cocktail (which is erroneously shaken) and the Blue Blazer, a Thomas creation, which is actually more of a pyrotechnical display than a thoughtful creation.  It has much in common with many drinks made by today’s flair bartenders—looks good, tastes, well, okay. 

Thomas also wrote about the Mint Julep, various Milk Punches, and curiously enough, Punch Jelly.  This “drink” must be considered to be a forerunner to today’s Jelly Shots, although Thomas served it more as a dessert than a drink.  It was rather potent, though—readers were warned: ‘This preparation is a very agreeable refreshment on a cold night, but should be used in moderation . . . many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.’

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On Drink by Kingsley Amis, 1973

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

A Case for Stronger Martinis

Kingsley Amis, author of Lucky Jim among other notable books, and father of prevalent author, Martin Amis, seemed to disagree with Bernard DeVoto’s declaration that martinis couldn’t be kept in the refrigerator, although, to be fair, in his book, Kingsley Amis on Drink, 1973, he did say that the fridge wasn’t really cold enough and pitchers of martinis should be kept in the freezer. on drink cover - Copy

Amis also asserted that he liked cocktail onions in his martinis–which were made at a ratio of gin to vermouth of anywhere between 12: and 15:1–and the reason for this was that he had never mastered the knack of twisting lemon rinds to release their oils onto the drink.

“Experts will say that I have described, not a dry martini, but its drier derivative, the Gibson,” said Amis, “Well, yes, but few people, I think, who have sampled the formula I give, by which the vermouth flavour disappears as such and yet the total flavour is still not all that of straight gin, will want to return to the 4:1 or 3:1 ratios prescribed by convention.”  He justifies his methods further by adding, at the very end of his missive on martinis, “And my version is stronger.”

Kingsley Amis on Drink by Kingsley Amis, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1973.

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The Spirit of Old Kentucky by Frank B. Thompson

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

I’ve a feeling that this booklet probably dates back to the 1960s though there’s no date on it anywhere.  Glenmore Gin, though, which is mentioned here, didn’t hit the market until 1959, so . . .

You can trace the roots of this distillery all the way back to 1849, but it was 1924 before Frank B. Thompson took charge of the company, alongside his brother, James P. Thompson, and the Thompson family retained control of the company right through until 1991 when it was bought by Guinness.  See more about Glenmore Distilleries HERE

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The Master Mixologist, 1949

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

The Master Mixologist 1949_0001 - Copy

Here’s a booklet from 1949 that teaches you everything you need to know to become a Master Mixologist.

Well, almost everything . . .

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Secrets of the Great Whiskey Ring

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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“Containing a complete exposure of the illicit whiskey frauds culminating in 1875, with documentary proofs … to which is added the author’s remarkable experiences while a convict in the Missouri penitentiary, at Jefferson City. By Gen. John McDonald”

This book is all about a huge scandal that surrounded President Grant, and it’s said that this scandal prevented him from serving a 3rd term as President (which was legal back then).

Here’s what I wrote about this scandal in The Book of Bourbon and Other Fine American Whiskeys:

Whiskeygate–the Tale of the Infamous Whiskey Ring

The major players in what became known as the “Whiskey Ring,” were General Orville E. Babcock, Grant’s secretary; John A. McDonald, the regional superintendent of the Internal Revenue, headquartered in St. Louis; and Benjamin Helm Bristow, the man who initiated the investigation into the affair when he became Secretary of the Treasury in 1874.secrets of the great whiskey ring 006

Here, in very simple terms, is how the scam worked: Sometime around 1870, government agents, charged with keeping an eye on how much whiskey was being made, arranged to ignore a certain percentage of the distillate in return for cash in the amount of roughly half the money the distillery would have paid in taxes.  When “straight” tax collectors who were not part of the ring were due to call, the distillers were forewarned to “play safe” and pay up.

The “Whiskey Ring” agents claimed to have a “higher” purpose in their treachery; they told distillers that the dollars they collected were going into a special fund to help re-elect Grant.  Was this Whiskeygate?  Although we can’t say for certain how many people believed their claim as patriotic party do-gooders, evidence points to up to 15 million gallons of whiskey a year, which would have generated a cool $7.5 million in taxes–an extraordinary amount of money at the time–going untaxed between 1870 and 1874.  And Grant was returned to office in 1872.

Due to his incompetency and the number of other scandals within his administration, by the end of 1874 Grant was not a popular man.  He was thinking of running for a third term–even though he had once told Congress that he was not prepared for the office at all–and people within his administration despaired of some of the people he had chosen to work alongside him.  Rumors of the Whiskey Ring were rife at this point, and many upstanding aides at the White House breathed a sigh of relief when Benjamin Bristow was appointed to the Treasury–he was a very well respected man.  One of his first acts was to convince Congress to grant money to investigate the alleged corruption within the Internal Revenue Service.  With the help of some newspapermen in St. Louis, Bristow was about to crack the ring wide open.

The first money used for the investigation went to reporter Myron Colony, who was hired by the Treasury Department to gather evidence against whoever was responsible for misdirecting the excise taxes.  Colony did a very thorough job and accumulated enough data to place John McDonald (the St. Louis-based superintendent of the Internal Revenue) at the head of the Whiskey Ring.  First off, McDonald was confronted with the evidence, and he did, indeed, confess to his crimes.  However, McDonald had a few cards up his sleeve, and although he offered to replace the money in return for immunity (claiming he would get it from the distilleries), he also dropped mention of Grant’s name to add weight to his plea for clemency.

McDonald was somewhat of an old pal of the President’s, having been recommended for his position by more than a couple of Julia Grant’s family’s friends.  Even so, Grant, at this point, made it clear that he wanted to clear up the whole mess and prosecute whoever was responsible for stealing the money.  The following month over 300 people (distillers and government employees) were arrested for their involvement in the Whiskey Ring, and everyone was certain that justice was being served.  But Grant was about to have a change of heart that would rock his White House aides and change the outcome of the whole affair.

Further investigations implicated Babcock, Grant’s personal friend and trusted secretary, in the ring–but Grant refused to believe the evidence.  And whereas Grant had originally claimed to have been “grievously betrayed” by McDonald, he now said that McDonald was a reliable friend, and cited McDonald’s friendship with Babcock as good enough reason to believe him innocent of the charges.  However, some documents had been discovered that pointed to reasons other than friendship for Grant’s change of heart.

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A series of cryptic telegrams in the Treasury Department’s possession tied Babcock to the affair.  Not only did they point to Babcock’s warning McDonald of the impending investigation (dated prior to McDonald’s being accused), they bore a strange signature–”Sylph.”  Was Sylph the Deep Throat of the day?  No, not really, it turns out she was more a *sexual dalliance in the White House than an anonymous inside source, and that it was Babcock who wired the warning and added the odd signature.  According to most reports, Sylph was a woman said to have had an extra-marital affair with Grant, and she was a woman who had pestered him ever since.  Rumor had it that McDonald had helped Grant by making sure Sylph left him alone, and if the rumors were true, it was no wonder that Grant allied himself with McDonald.  Why did Babcock use the name Sylph on the telegrams?  Well, he certainly didn’t want to use his own name on them–they were, after all, fairly incriminating–and it seems that Babcock and McDonald used Sylph’s name as a kind of inside joke when exchanging correspondence.  If trouble occurred, perhaps the name Sylph could help secure a show of friendship from the President.  The ploy seems to have had the desired effect.

From there, things went from bad to worse for the investigators.  According to William S. McFeely, author of Grant, A Biography, although both Grant and Babcock were confronted with this very damning evidence, Babcock insisted that the telegrams were about something other than the Whiskey Ring, and Grant sided with him.  However, the treasury was not to be deterred.  Even though some documents pertaining to the case were stolen (allegedly by a man in the employ of Grant himself), Babcock was indicted.

Grant’s actions in this sordid affair can be interpreted in several ways:  Grant was trying to help out some old friends; he was afraid that his alleged affair with Sylph would be revealed; or members of Grant’s family–or maybe even Grant himself–was implicated in the Whiskey Ring.

Babcock was finally brought to trial in 1876, and due in large part to testimony from Grant in the form of a deposition (Grant had offered to testify in person at the trial but was persuaded that Presidents just didn’t do that sort of thing), he was acquitted of all crimes.  And although Grant allowed Babcock to return to his job at the White House, officials made sure that he was replaced just a few days later.  Babcock became an Inspector of Lighthouses and drowned in 1884; McDonald was found guilty of his crimes in 1875, fined $5,000, and sentenced to three years imprisonment–but was pardoned, less than two years later, by President Hayes.

Upon his release from jail McDonald accused Grant of taking part in the Ring in his book, Secrets of the Great Whiskey Ring (1880).  In it, McDonald maintains that his actions in the Whiskey Ring were a direct result of instructions from Babcock, and since, according to McDonald, Babcock was widely regarded as being “the President’s chief advisor,” he regarded any requests from Babcock as having “emanated from the highest authority.”  Sylph, again according to McDonald’s book–and we should take into consideration that he wrote the book to throw most of the blame for the Whiskey Ring scandal on others–was a woman with whom he had arranged a liaison for Babcock, not Grant.  He described her as “unquestionably the handsomest woman in St. Louis,” and went on to say, “Her form was petite, and yet withal, a plumpness and development which made her a being whose tempting, luscious deliciousness was irresistible.”  Obviously, McDonald was quite taken with the woman (although a sketch of Sylph in McDonald’s book reveals her to have been more “homely” than irresistible).

secrets of the great whiskey ring 008And here’s that picture of Sylph!

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Drinks of the World by James Mew and John Ashton., London:The Leadenhall Press, 1892.

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

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Article from the 1892 New York Times review of Drinks of the World :-

‘Man must drink quite as much as he must eat to live, for the human body contains 70 per cent, of water. We carry our blood through some twenty-eight miles of tubing, and at every breath we exhale moisture, and from the surface of our bodies there is in every twenty-four hours an evaporation of two to three pounds of water. Extolling water as the best fluid for slaking man’s thirst and granting that all alcoholic fluids might be dispensed with, the book under notice shows that no sooner had humanity risen in the scale of civilization than it took to fermenting the juices of fruits or of decoctions made from the steeping of grain. Whenever there was starch or sugar present, alcohol was the resultant natural fermentation, and man became a brewer. Like fire, he found that alcohol was a good servant and a bad master.

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The object of the “Drinks of the World” is to instruct the general reader and to give him an idea of the any fluids man partakes of. You have something presented about them all from toast water, the superlative virtue of which Mr. James Sedgwick extolled in 1725, to brandy, that potent fluid Johnson said must be drunk by the man “who aspires to be a hero”. From Egyptian records, wine is known to have been common in the country 6,000 years ago, and later Pliny and Horace vaunt the wine of Mareotis. The Assyrian has left a wine list, interpreted to-day, and the catalogue includes eleven various vintages. Both Assyrians and Egyptians took their beer. The Hittites were wine drinkers, and they have left us a sculptured tablet which shows two women hobnobbing over their glasses. The Egyyptian was a realist in art, and he drew a fair lady certainly half seas over.

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The authors do not tell us very much that is new regarding the wines of the Greeks or Romans. With our modern tastes Falernian, Massican, Coecuban, and Surrentine would not be considered palatable. The disagreeable features of the Roman wines were their admixtures with salt and their flavorings with pitch or herbs. Wines pickled, smoked, and tarred could not have been pleasant. Sometimes we have thought that the whole matter of Roman wines wanted reconsideration, for the most conservative of all things are human tastes.
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Of Danish and Norwegian Vikings and how they taught the early Britons to make beer the authors tell us much. Mead, made of honey and water and then fermented, is fully described in Beowulf. In the Bayeux Tapestry we see men in a drinking bout taking huge draughts from drinking horns. We have, as it where, a relic of the time left us in our invitation “Will you take a horn?” Anglo-Saxons were steady drinkers, and there is no question that the monks often took more ale or wine than was good for them. Extra wine and ale was permitted on saint’s days, and with Anglo-Saxons there was a saint or two for every day in the year. In Scandinavia wine was imported from Spain, Italy and France, and they brewed for themselves strong mead.
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Treating the subject of modern wines, difference of quality is shown to depend on soil and treatment of the grape. The alcohol varies. In strong ports and sherries it may be from 16 to 25 per cent. In clarets, hocks, and other light wines it ought not to exceed 7 per cent. It is questionable whether any wine containing over 13 per cent of alcohol is not “fortified” or “doctored”. For the best information on this extended subject the reader who wants to know may consult the learned Vizetelly in his excellent work “The Wines of the World”.
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Who invented brandy? There is a queer legend that the devil was once entrapped on earth and held in durance for some centuries. The returning to his own kingdom he found it empty. Longing for subjects he went to Nordhausen, invented brandy, put up a distillery there, and from that time to this sheol has never been lonely. It is supposable that brandy is the Dutch “brand-wijn” of the German “brannt-wein” or burnt or distilled wine. In the modern period brandy was first called Nantz, from the town of Nantes, and our Puritan forefathers knew it thoroughly under that name. In time “right good” Nantes turned into the more delicate cognac of to-day. The tippling habit was common among women in the seventeenth century, and Queen Anne, because she liked her liquor overmuch, was sometimes called “Brandy-aced Nan”. The Spectator, scathing the excesses of the so-called ladies of the day, advises one of them “to be sure and have a bottle of brandy by her bedside for fear of fainting in the night”.

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Gin, we know, is alcohol flavoured with the berries of the juniper. Massinger tells us of a drunkard in his “Duke of Milan” who was fuddled with Geneva gin, which seems to have exactly suited early English tastes. Perhaps Dutch William brought it most into use. Hogarth’s Gin Lane (1751) shows the vice of gin drinking. To-day Schiedan is the gin metropolis, “the Mecca of the Dutchman, the birthplace of his beloved schnapps”. Bottles of gin are current in 1892 in some parts of Africa as a species of coin. How was the name of Old Tom given to gin? It is related that it was sold in a surreptitious way in 1733 by a man who had for a sign a black cat, but Notes and Queries doubts this, and shows that one Tom Hodges sold gin: hence “Old Tom”.
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On the subject of liqueurs the authors are interesting. The derivation of the word is thisty, a kind of lucas a non lucendo, a trifle Max Mullerish. There is a Sanskrit root, “laks”, or “lauce”, to see; but we do not see it. Herb wines were the arly products of the domestic stillroom, and sweet fluids with a basis of alcohol were turned out. Montaigne writing of his travels in Italy, says that the Jesuits or the Jesuates of Vicenza, before they exercised an important role, distilled waters of different herbs and flowers. The history of monastical liqueurs would be curious. There is, as it were, a “litany of flasks”. We have “Liqueur de Chartreux, des Benedictines. des Carmes, des Trappistes, des Peres de Garaison, liqueur du P. Kermann”. and it is really strange that some good liqueur is not made in this country with a religious label on it. All these French monastic liqueurs are good, honest, and wholesome. Eau de Dantzic, that compound with floating fragments of gold in it, does it not recall to present gullible humanity the “potable gold” of past credulity?
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The history of beer, tea, and coffee is given, Tea in 1588 had its virtues presented by the good Father Giovanni Pietro Maffei, who, writing of his travels in China, declared that the use of it caused the Chinese “to live a long and happy life, without pain or infirmity of any sort”. In the time of Charles II (1660) an effort was made to impose a tax of 8d. on every gallon of tea made. It was found impossible to watch teapots, so, in William and Mary’s time a duty of 1s. a pound was levied on tea. The authors give various methods of making coffee, but England is the country with the worst coffee in the known world. As to aerated drinks, beginning with ginger beer and concluding with soda water, something is told about them all. It is curious to learn that the manufacture of effervescing water was begun in England in 1789.’

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The Remarkable History of The Macallan

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

1 The Remarkable History of The Macallan cover 2 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 1 3 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 2 4 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 3 5 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 4 6 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 5 7 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 6 8 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 7 9 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 8 10 The Remarkable History of The Macallan 9 11 observations by Raphael Holinshed, 1529 - 1580 12 Easter Elchies by Sara Midda, May, 1975 13 The Macallan Distillery, Sara Midda, May, 1975

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Mamma’s Recipes for Keeping Papa Home, 1901

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I’ve no idea where this came from, but I’ve had it for many years, and I figure that it was probably printed circa 1900, a time when the Temperance movement was gaining a foothold, and as the title suggests, women were trying desperately to keep their men away from those debauched bars and clubs.

I picked the year 1900 specifically because I found an ad for Martin Casey in the  Texas Mining and Trade Journal, Volume 4, Number 29, Saturday, February 3, 1900, though of course this pamplet could have been printed a decade or more either side of that.

To keep their men at home, of course, women would have to learn how to fix cocktails, hence the Martin Casey company printed this little manual.  Whether or not they also distributed booklets instructing wives how to book raunchy bar girls to keep their hubbies busy, is not known.




Below I’ll post a few more pages from this little treasure, just so you can get a feel for the cocktail scene, around the turn of the Twentieth Century.





Note the medicinal claims in the Cognac ad on the right here:



Here’s a nice old ad for Old-Tom gin


Here you can see an ad for Creme de Menthe,

but you might want to also note the recipe for Rock & Rye, “a good remedy for sore throats and colds”

Here’s an ad for Caroni Cocktail Bitters

And on the back cover we discover that


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Harry Johnson

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

I can’t remember exactly when this book fell into my hands, but it was probably in about 2005 or 2006 when I got an email from a stranger asking if I knew how much the book was worth-I think that he said something about finding it in his father’s attic.

I wrote back to him offering him an incredible amount of cash for it. Okay, I said that we’d cough up $200 for the book, sight unseen, and I said I’d send a check and that he could wait for the check to clear before sending the book. You could probably get more for it on e-Bay, I told him, but this is one-stop shopping.

The guy wrote back saying that he’d think about it, but when we didn’t hear from him for a while we thought we’d lost the book. Then, a few months later, he wrote to say that he’d done some research and decided to accept my offer, so, for $200 I got a paperback 1900 copy of Johnson’s legendary book-it’s not in the best condition, but it’s not in tatters, either. There’s a photograph of old Harry facing the title page-quite a moustache the guy had.

“In submitting this manual to the public, I crave indulgence for making a few remarks in regard to myself,” writes Johnson in the preface, and he goes on to tell his life story, saying that he learned his profession in San Francisco, and he had since had 40 years’ experience. This edition of his book was published in 1900, so he’s saying that he was already a trained bartender in 1860.

Johnson goes on to say that he left California and in 1868, “I opened, in Chicago, what was generally recognized to be the largest and finest establishment of the kind in this country.” The place burned down in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, though, and Johnson claimed to have been 100 Gs out of pocket and “compelled to start life anew.”

After Chicago Johnson worked at a “leading hotel” in Boston, then made his way to New York where he worked for “one of the well-known hostelries of the Metropolis until enabled to begin a business of my own, which has since been pre-eminently successful.”

Next comes Johnson’s claim to have beaten Jerry Thomas to the punch when it came to writing the bar book. “There was published by me, in San Francisco, the first Bartender’s Manual ever issued in the United States. This publication was a virtual necessity-the result of a constant demand for such a treatise by those everywhere engaged in the hotel, bar and restaurant business.” 10,000 copies were printed, he says, and they all sold within six weeks.

In 1869, Johnson goes on to claim, he beat “five of the most popular and scientific bartenders of the day . . . in a tourney of skill, at New Orleans,” and he continues in this vein, boasting of his travels in Europe “for the sole purpose of learning the methods of preparing the many different kinds of mixed drinks,” and stating that he “also made-for many years past-a profession of teaching the art of attending a bar to any one [sic] expressing an inclination to learn.”

What I love about this book is the advice that Johnson gives to bartenders about how to behave at a job interview (apparently spitting doesn’t go down too well), and various other statements of his that serve to tell us lots of aspects of tending bar back then that we might not know if it wasn’t for this book. Who knew, for instance, that slimy ice was a problem for bartenders?

Spitting Prohibited
“I cannot avoid, very well, offering a few more remarks regarding the conduct and appearance of the bartender, although I have touched upon the subject quite frequently in this book. I wish to impress on the mind of each man behind the bar, that he should look and act as neatly as possible. Bartenders should not, as some have done, have a toothpick in their mouth, clean their fingernails while on duty, smoke, spit on the floor, or have other disgusting habits.”

A Question of Ice
“Of late years, artificial ice has taken to some extent-largely in the Southern part of the United States-the place of the natural product, which I consider a very beneficial change, for the reason that the artificial cake comes in the same regular size, therefore, easier to pack and place away, more convenient and more wholesome, as it does not contain any impurities. Again, it does not produce as much slime as the natural ice and, therefore, when used behind the bar for mixing drinks, as well as in the restaurant for drinking water, it is preferable, and there is no difficulty in keeping it clear.”
My very favorite quote is the one on page 45 that starts out “The greatest accomplishment of a bartender lies in his ability to exactly suit his customer. . .” This is where Johnson shows us that he was, indeed, a great bartender.

The Greatest Accomplishment
“The greatest accomplishment of a bartender lies in his ability to exactly suit his customer. This is done by inquiring what kind of drink the customer desires, and how he wishes it prepared. This is especially necessary with cocktails, juleps, ‘sours,’ and punches. The bartender must also inquire whether the drink is to be made stiff, strong, or medium, and then must use his best judgment in preparing it; but, at all times, he must make a special point to study the tastes of his customers and, strictly heeding their wishes, mix all drinks according to their desires and tastes. In following this rule, the barkeeper will soon gain the esteem and respect of his patrons.”

A Man in Our Line
“A man in our line, to be successful, must be quick, prompt, courteous, able, a good student of human nature, a good dresser, clean, and possessing several more virtues.”

The Bartender’s Duty
“It is proper, when a person steps up to the bar, for a bartender to set before him a glass if ice-water, and, then, in a courteous manner, find out what he may desire.. If mixed drinks should be called for, it is the bartender’s duty to mix and prepare them above the counter, and allow the customers to see the operation; they should be prepared in such a neat, quick, and scientific way as to draw attention.”

A Good Many People
“A good many people, I am sorry to say, are laboring under the erroneous impression that there is no such thing as a gentleman in the liquor business.”

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