Welcome to Past In A Glass.
This project is happening today, but its roots stand firmly in the past. To be specific, in my family’s past.
A few years ago I came across some bartending books while packing up my grandparents’ house. Of course they had a bar, and one book in particular caught my eye. A quick flip through this very old, very well used volume was all I needed. I was amazed at all the cocktails I had never even heard of. I wanted to try all of them. Their names were so evocative! Corpse Reviver. Blood and Sand. Blackberry Smash. I wondered why they weren’t around anymore – did they taste bad? Are the ingredients hard to find?
I wanted to know, so I decided to “Julie & Julia” my way through my grandparents’ old cocktail book.
My Grandparents lived in the Mad Men era. My Grandfather survived World War II and went on to become a Pennsylvania politician. My Grandmother gave up her nursing career to raise my father and his siblings.
Do I have to say they threw a lot of parties? Because you know they did.
They favored two books: Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide ($2 at the time, $75 for a crummy one today) and Jayne’s Bartender’s Guide ($1 at the time). Both give me great inspiration, but Jayne’s is smaller so most of the cocktails featured here are from Old Mr. Boston’s.
I should also mention that both books came out post-prohibition.As Jayne’s so rightly puts it,
“LEST WE FORGET – Prohibition was a bitter pill – a poison that killed tens of thousands of legitimate prosperous enterprises engaged in the production and sale of spirituous beverages. It brought ruin to millions – good fortune to none. We are only now beginning to recover from its evil effects. Now that Happy Days are here again, let us not forget that only by observation of every law, by conducting a clean and legitimate business in a clean, smart place and by serving the public only the best and purest beverages possible, can we avoid the old evils that existed before Prohibition and actually brought about Prohibition through public sentiment. Let us not invite another bitter dose. It might prove fatal the next time.” – Jayne’s Bartender’s Guide
My Grandfather once told me that my Great-Grandfather let bootleggers hide their cars in his garage when he heard that the cops were after them. They saw to it our family never had a dry house. This story and stories like it have become the inspiration for this project.
I hope you enjoy my take on Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide, as well as my continuing adventures as an amateur bartender.
And thank you for checking out Past in a Glass!