The Great American Cocktail
Since Dionysius blithe and young inspired old Hellas air
And beat the muses at their game, “with vine leaves in his hair”;
Since Wotan quaffed oblivion to Nieblungen gold,
And Thor beside the icy fjord drank thunder-bolts of old;
Since Omar in the Persian bowl forgot the fires of hell
And wondered what the vintners buy so rare as that they sell—
What potion have the gods bestowed to lift the thoughts afar
Like that seductive cocktail they sell across the bar?
Perhaps it ‘s made of whiskey and perhaps it ‘s made of gin;
Perhaps there ‘s orange bitters and a lemon peel within;
Perhaps it’s called Martini and perhaps it’s called, again,
The name that spread Manhattan’s fame among the sons of men;
Perhaps you like it garnished with what thinking men avoid—
The little blushing cherry that is made of celluloid;
But be these matters as they may, a cher confrère you are
If you admire the cocktail they pass across the bar.
And as the hours of talk grow late, the hours of drink grow more,
What makes the barroom mirror shine as never shone before?
What makes the dullest utterance the cogs of mirthanoint
Until no joke is so obscure you cannot see the point ?
What makes the sidewalk, homeward bound, like storm-tossed ships careen,
Until a dear, familiar voice says, “Charles, where have you been?”
You hear yourself, like some one else, make answer from afar,
“‘Sh’ thoshe d’lish’s cocktailsh (hic!) they pash acrosh th’ bar I”
The Book of Spice by Wallace Irwin. Published by J. W. Luce and Company, 1906.