May 9th, 2008
Here’s another reason to go to drinkboston’s World Cocktail Day event: you’re apt to pick up some fascinating knowledge from our guest bartenders.
Example: Brother Cleve was doing some research on the cocktail he’ll be mixing, the Bijou (gin, sweet vermouth, green Chartreuse, orange bitters). I found only a vague citation that the drink was named for the Broadway theater the Bijou, which opened in 1917. Turns out, says Cleve, that the cocktail predates the theater by 35 years. It seems to have first appeared in Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual from 1882.
Then he tells me this: after locating the Johnson book on eBay and opting not to pay the “thousands of dollars” asking price, he stumbled upon a free, digitized copy online. OMG!
The Johnson book (1934 edition) and three other out-of-print bar and cocktail guides are available as PDFs on the Exposition Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux web site. The EUVS is a wine and spirits museum in southern France built by Paul Ricard, who founded the spirits conglomerate Pernod Ricard in 1932. Its huge collection of artifacts is currently undergoing a two-year restoration, and part of the project involves putting some of the rare books in the collection online. In addition to the books (more of which are on the way!), there are drink lists and menus from the late 1800s to the 1930s. Right now the books available are:
Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual (1934)
The Cocktail Key, by Herbert Jenkins Ltd. (1920s)
American Bar: Recettes des Boissons Anglaises et Americaines (1904)
Collections and Creations, by Henry Lyman (1934)
One tiny caveat: you can download these books to your computer, but that’s about it. They are password-protected. You can’t print them out. You can’t copy images or pages from them or doctor them in any way. Believe me, I tried. Still, this is about as exciting as it gets for the cocktailian. See you Tuesday!