Category Archives: COCKTAIL BOOKS

Happy Birthday, Jack Dempsey!

It’s Jack Dempsey’s birthday today, which had me flipping through my copy of Mr. Boston for the recipe for the Dempsey Cocktail:

That pic above comes from the 1953 edition of the Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide.

I know Mr. Boston’s not the oldest cocktail book nor the most cited, but it’s the only one I have on hand that mentions the Dempsey Cocktail.

Jack Dempsey

Who was Jack Dempsey? I didn’t know much about the man until I cribbed the following from Wikipedia:

William Harrison “Jack” Dempsey was born June 24, 1895 and dies May 31, 1983. He was also known as “Kid Blackie” and “The Manassa Mauler.”

He was an American professional boxer, who became a cultural icon of the 1920s.

Dempsey held the World Heavyweight Championship from 1919 to 1926, and his aggressive style and exceptional punching power made him one of the most popular boxers in history.

From Mr. Boston:


•1 oz dry gin
•1 oz apple brandy
•1/2 teaspoon absinthe substitute
•1/2 teaspoon grenadine


Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a 3 oz cocktail glass.

Other Recipes:

—Difford’s Guide uses rum in its “Jack Dempsey” cocktail.



Mary Astor’s Painless Anesthetic

Actress Mary Astor was born on this day in 1906.

She starred in silent movies as well as “talkies,” and is perhaps best-known for having played the role of Brigid O’Shaugnessy in the movie The Maltese Falcon. She also played the role of Mrs. Anna Smith in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis.

In searching the Internet for a Mary Astor cocktail, I came across two recipes that piqued my interest. The first was a drink I found on the site of a liqueur brand called Chareau, which is a booze company based in California — and the liqueur they make is aloe flavored.

Check out the site’s “about” section by clicking here. The liqueur sounds mind-boggling. I don’t know that I ever would’ve thought of aloe as a primary ingredient for a liqueur. Of course, I’m also not a California farmer.

Other ingredients in the liqueur include: Cucumber, eau de vie, lemon peel, muskmelon, spearmint, sugar and water.

Online at the Chareu site, the company lists this as their Mary Astor cocktail:

Photo from



  • 2 oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Chareau 
  • 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc 


Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a coupe. Garnish with edible flowers. Cocktail by Pablo Moix.

Crazy interesting, right!? I have got to know what that tastes like.


So, while still interesting, Chareau’s Mary Astor cocktail is a brand specific modern cocktail. 

There isn’t any official “Mary Astor” cocktail that I’ve found, but there is the thing called “Astor’s Painless Anesthetic!”

What is an Astor’s Painless Anesthetic? Well, according to Lesley M. M. Blume’s book “Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition,” the drink was created for Mary Astor by the Stork Club.

The full title of Blume’s book is: Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition: A Compendium of Impish, Romantic, Amusing, and Occasionally Appalling Potations from Bygone Eras.

Google made research into the matter even more helpful by having a copy of The Stork Club Bar Book available to search online:


  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz French vermouth
  • 1 oz Italian vermouth
  • 1 oz cognac
  • Orange bitters


“Shake well with ice cubes and dash of orange bitters, twist of lemon peel and just a touch of sugar.”


The Stork Club was a nightclub in Manhattan, which was open from 1929 to 1965 and was regarded as one of the most prestigious clubs in the world. 

The club was a symbol of café society, where the wealthy elite, including movie stars, celebrities, showgirls and aristocrats all mixed in the VIP Cub Room of the club.

Reading over the Stork Club’s Wikipedia page I found out that Walter Winchell actually coined the name of the Stork Club’s “Cub Room,” — a fact which has me now wanting to rewatch that HBO biopic starring Stanley Tucci.



Happy Birthday To Charlie Chaplain!

I can’t believe both Charlie Chaplain and Mary Pickford have birthdays within a week of each other.

I can only imagine the parties they had back in the day.

Chaplain was born April 16, 1889 in London.

Like Pickford, Chaplain has a cocktail with his name attached to it. The drink even has an illustration in my recently-bought copy of The Esquire Drink Book:


Esquire‘s recipe is as follows:

  • 3 oz sloe gin
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 3 oz apricot Brandy

Sake over crushed ice.

A quick Google search netted me this link, which called the drink “rather thick and sweet.” It also scales back the cocktail’s three ingredients to 1 oz portions each:

The Charlie Chaplin Cocktail was one of the premier drinks of the Waldorf-Astoria prior to 1920. The equal mix of lime, apricot brandy and sloe gin is documented in A.S. Crockett’s The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book and it’s a nice, gentle mix, although rather thick and sweet.

 Thirsty for more?

— Mix That Drink uses lemon juice, not lime.

Also, this is my 100th post, so that’s pretty exciting!



Weekend Wine Tasting & Antiquing

On Saturday I scored a copy of the Esquire Drink Book from 1956:

My wife and I went to North East, Pa. with her folks and not only hit up some antique shops, but also bought a couple bottles of wine along the way.

Here in Jamestown, we live near the Lake Erie Wine Trail — so weekend tasting is a regular part of summers in Chautauqua County.

We started at South Shore Wine Company, which is a winery located in North East that’s part of the Mazza group of wineries. Mazza has two other locations, both in Chautauqua County, my favorite of which is right across from Johnson Estate Winery — but more on that in a bit.

The South Shore location was a great place to visit because the main room is in an underground, cavernous, stone room that’s just neat to experience. And even better, there’s wine to taste while you’re taking in the history.

I tasted two wines and three meads, their Gruner Veltliner and Noiret for wines — and also their honey mead, raspberry honey mead and a carbonated mead called “Hops & Honey,” made with hops and more.

The gruner veltliner was very good and I wish I would have gotten a bottle, but the appeal of having some honey mead was more appealing. Not getting a bottle of the gruner veltliner just means I’ll have to go back soon, and I wonder if the other Mazza locations sell that same gruner veltliner that South Shore was selling.

Wine Links:

— Lake Erie Wine Country

Chautauqua Wine Trail

— South Shore Wine Company

Johnson Estate Winery

Tasting Bar:

Earlier I mentioned that one of the Mazza sites is located right across from the Johnson Estate Winery.

Those two sites are located right on Route 20 in Westfield and are a couple of my favorites because they offer more than just wine to taste — they have spirits.

The Mazza location has its own distilled spirits to taste, made and marketed under the Five & 20 name. The Johnson Estate Winery doesn’t distill spirits, but it does have what it calls a “New York Statr Spirits Tasting Bar.” Basically, there’s a second station in the winery’s tasting room where you can taste boozes which were made in New York State.

I tasted three whiskies there Saturday:

Whiskey Tasting :

Bootlegger 21 New York Bourbon Whiskey — 

Hudson Double Charred Whiskey — 

77 Whiskey Rye & Corn

At Mazza, in addition to wine and spirits, there’s a launch party for their brewery’s first beers this weekend — making Mazza and Five & 20 the first combination winery, distillery and brewery in the state.



Recipes For Essential Mixes Drinks

I picked up this pocket cocktail pamphlet at a household sale in Lakewood, N.Y.


Bellows: Recipes For Essential Mixed Drinks

This was one of six vintage pamphlets I picked up at a local household sale. I’ll post the rest soon. And maybe one day I’ll get around to transcribing the recipes.

The thing with a pamphlet like this though is that it specifies its particular brand in all of the drinks which are listed. They’re great to own for the art and phrasing though, especially the party books for hosts and hostesses. Those ones have hilarious little cartoons and suggestions for party games and canapés and all sorts of other stuff. This pamphlet’s a more straightforward set of recipes.

I just did a quick Google search and found a few of these Bellows books available for sale online. Not sure of more than that though. From what I can find online it maybe printed in 1949? Or 1950?

The book’s divided up into five sections:
•Brandy, Sherry & Champagne

There’s a total of 34 cocktails in the book and they’re printed as follows:

–Bourbon on the Rocks
–Old Fashioned
–Dry Manhattan
–Mint Julep
–Whiskey Sour
–Whiskey Toddy
–Dry Martini
–Bronx Cocktail
–Southside Cocktail
–Gin Rickey
–Tom Collins
–French 75
–Cuba Libre
–Planters Punch
–Rum Collins
Brandy, Sherry & Champagne
–Brandy Smash
–Side Car
–Jack Rose
–Sherry Flip
–Champagne Cocktail
–Champagne Bowl
–Whiskey Egg Nog
–Whiskey Tom & Jerry
–Peach Bowl
–Black Velvet
–Bellows Rum Cocktail
–The Grasshopper
–Hot Whiskey Toddy
–Sazerac Cocktail
–Bamboo Cocktail

Other Vintage Cocktail Pamphlets:
•The Smart Hostess — Link



Book Review: Old Man Drinks

I found this book on the “Bestsellers Under $3.99” section on iBooks. I don’t remember what it cost exactly, but it was worth the couple of bucks I paid for it digitally:

20140703-122248.jpgOld Man Drinks: Recipes, Advice and Barstool Wisdom
Written by Robert Schnakenberg

Every cocktail book has its selling point. Some try to cram in as many recipes as possible. Others list classic cocktails and cite the drinks’ original recipes. And still others play up a certain aspect of drinking.

Case in point, on a recent weekend trip to Buffalo I came across a book called “High Heels and Highballs.” I almost bought it. I’m a sucker for cocktail books and an even bigger sucker for gimmicks. It’s no surprise then that I had to download this book as soon as I saw it.

Sure, iBooks was selling it at a discounted price, but had I come across it elsewhere, I’m sure I still would have given it a chance. Not only am I a sucker for gimmicks, but I’ve got a passion for old-timey cocktails (and not only that, but retro pulp and detective noir type ne’er-do-wells). There’s none of that last bit in this book though, and that’s fine. There are plenty of old-timey (and classic) drinks, but the old men in the book are more of a blue collar nature — not the down-and-out yet beloved literary types I’m more fond of seeing in print.

The cocktail recipes in this book are broken up with pictures of hard-drinkin’ old men whose quotes run from comical to sad to just plain nonsensical. I won’t get too critical of the “old men” in this book. They’re there to provide some color. I understand that. Their contribution though isn’t so much advice and barstool wisdom as it is little snippets of their lives.

Here are a couple of examples:
• “You have champagne tastes and beer pockets.”
• “I can’t believe I just threw you down the stairs in front of my grandson’s guidance counselor.”
• “Tacos make me very angry.”

More times than not, the “old men” quotes sounded more like snippets of things overheard in a bar than advice or barstool wisdom. There were a few gems that shone through though, yet even they were more like cute little catch phrases than what I’d expected from the title.

The text of the book is written in the same sort of “salty old dog” style as the old men’s quotes, but the actual written part of the book does it to better effect.

Overall, I can’t criticize this book too much as it succeeded in doing what any worthwhile cocktail book needs to do in order to have value — it introduced me to some cocktails I’d never heard of or tasted before, such as the “Mahoney” and the “Obituary.”

As with any cocktail book though, it never hurts to double check the recipes printed with other sources. This book, for instance, says to shake a Manhattan and credits Col. Joe Rickey with the gin version of that drink. I’ve always read that you should build” Manhattans and read that Rickey’s first Rickey was whiskey-based. Still, even with little red flags like those, this book was still a worthwhile read and a welcome addition to my shelf.

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