The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide by Charley Mahoney, 1912

by Gaz Regan · Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 · CitC, gaz regan's library

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The Hoffman House Bartender’s Guide by Charley Mahoney, 1912

This Legendary Book will be part of the Library available to students at the 2015 series of Cocktails in the Country

1 cover hoffman house 1912 - Copy

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.  Price: $1.  Eat your heart out.  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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