A Bit of Damon Runyon and Apothecaries – Hubs of Health
My Gentlemen’s Drinking Lounge is now complete. As I’ve expanded from single malt Scotch to spirits in general, six new reference books have been added to the room’s whiskey library. In the next few blog posts, the worlds of bitters, botany, and beautifully crafted cocktails from bygone eras will be explored, along with a bit of science, cultural history, and humor. The posts will not be reviews, rather, a heads up about new books available for whiskeyphiles. They are all easily available on the Internet.
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails
Damon Runyon’s descriptions of nefarious and colorful personalities in post-Prohibition New York City have delighted readers for decades. Today, the predicaments of Good Time Charley, Nathan Detroit, Big Jule and their ilk can be heard on satellite radio. Images of this period, both written and pictorial, are alive and well when discovering recipes for by-gone cocktails like The Scofflaw, The 20th Century, the Twelve Mile Limit, and The Algonquin. Ted Haigh’s beautifully nostalgic work also includes a nod to the era’s political times with recipes for the Communist, the Income Tax Cocktail, and The Liberal. James Bond’s doomed double agent Vesper Lynd gets her star turn with her eponymous martini in Ian Fleming’s 1953 Casino Royale. Stylish photos of period glassware, liquor ads, and memorabilia set a stylish tone. Perhaps the most practical addition to aid the vintage cocktail connoisseur is the Resource Guide. Here, descriptions of authentic ingredients like Amer Picon, Orgeat, Peychaud’s Bitters, and dozens of others are defined with where-to-buy web addresses.
Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today
Fair Winds Press
“Apothecrie” entered the Middle English lexicon in the 1300s and referred to a shopkeeper or preparer of compounds for medicinal use. The word eventually evolved into today’s spelling describing a person, as well as the place where the chemist, druggist, or pharmacist practiced. Warren Bobrow creates a compelling and logical bridge connecting ancient lore with recuperative and healing cocktails served in modern times. Things got interesting for the apothecaries when they discovered their elixirs and potions, concocted from flowers, herbs and other locally-available plants, could be kept from rotting by adding generous amounts of alcohol to the mix. In just a few introductory pages, Bobrow takes us from the 14th Century into the 21st Century with engaging tidbits about spirits, herbs, ancient medical cures, and the like. For the myriad of fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, the deft hand of time traveler Claire Beauchamp Fraser comes to mind. Claire’s use of her 1940s medical knowledge in 1740s Scotland is as vividly portrayed as is Bobrow’s research. In 2014, modern drugstores are again at the forefront of proactive health. Case in point: CVS Health, the nation’s #2 drug chain, recently accelerated its plan to ban tobacco sales in all its stores.
The Deep Healer. This chile-laden cocktail is not only beautiful, but great for hangovers. Ingredients: tomato puree, onion puree, hot chile paste, dark leafy greens like spinach or kale, and five ounces of vodka.
Needing to get a hangover out of hyper-drive? The Corpse Reviver, with its cognac, calvados, gin, sweet vermouth and falernum may very well do the trick.