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Vintage Cocktail Books


marty mccabe
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So, this might be too general of a question, and I certainly invite feedback to narrow it, but here's the gist of it:

It seems like every time I look on Ebay, etc., there's some "new" vintage cocktail book that I've never heard of. So, which ones are worth it? And which ones are just plain old?

To start, here's my collection of "vintage" (which I'll arbitrarily define as out of print):

Bottoms Up, Ted Saucier

Jones' Complete Bar Guide, Stan Jones

Bartender's Guide, Trader Vic

Esquire Drinks, David Wondrich

The Official Mixer's Manual, Duffy

The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, Embury

Cocktail, Harrington

Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes, Harman Burke

I'm not including things like Jerry Thomas' book, or The Savoy Cocktial Book, as they're available in reprints.

But what about things like:

The Cocktail Book, A Sideboard Manual for Gentlemen

Cocktail and Wine Digest, Oscar Haimo

The Art of Drinking, Dexter Mason

So, what do you all think?

Ciao,

marty

Marty McCabe

Boston, MA

Acme Cocktail Company

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's a nice collection that you have here.

As a minor collector of "vintage" bar books I take great pleasure in them because not only do they have information on making fantastic drinks, they are also a link to a mostly forgotten past when cocktails, punches, crustas, flips, etc... were actually well made. Fortunately there are now some great bars here in NYC where you can get some amazing perfect cocktails, but there is always more choice when you pick up a copy of a 1948 Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide.

I'm going to take a stab at the golden age of cocktails being from 1900 till about 1950. After 1950 comes the baby boom generation that saw cocktails as the drink of the previous generation and not cool. Then with the rise of vodka in popularity, anyone can make a drink with little effort and fine cocktails die out.

The first book got me interested was a copy The Gentleman's Companion by Charles H. Baker, 1946 but the book that really hooked me was Cocktail and Tastybite Recipes by Barney Burke, 1934. The recipes, the eloquence of the words, the attention to detail, the feel of the paper, all make such books extremely addictive. If you have thousands to blow, there is no rare cocktail book that you cannot obtain.

Provided that you are frugal and search old book stores well, there is no need to spend a fortune on such books. Yes it is unlikely that you will find a 1930 copy of the Savoy Cocktail book for under $350 but there are plenty of other books that are fairly common. On ebay, people get way to competitive and often pay far more than a book is worth. It is likely that for each cocktail book that breaks $100 on ebay there are probably thousands of copies of the same book in used book stores for $10-15. 98% of what I own was not purchased from ebay and here's my list:

1933 The Merry Mixer or Cocktails & Their Ilk $10

1934 Cocktail and Tastybite Recipes by Barney Burke $10

1934 Irvin S. Cobb's Own Recipe Book by Cobb, Irvin $5

1934 Gordon's Cocktail & Food Recipes by Harry Jerrold Gordon $10

1935 Angostura Bitters For Home Use $7

1936 A Guide For Mixing Rum Felton & Son $5

1940 The How and the When by Marco $15

1940 Official Mixer's Manual by Patrick Gavin Duffy $3

1941 Burke's Complete Cocktail and Tastybite Recipes by Barney Burke $10

1944 The Standard Cocktail Guide by Crosby Gaige $5

1946 The Gentleman's Companion by Charles H Baker $40 (mint 2 volume set)

1948 Bartender's Guide by Trader Vic $3

1953 The American Drink Book by Field, S. S. $12

1955 The Merrie Christmas Drink Book $10

2004 Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh (out of print, $26-100)

2007 The Savoy Cocktail Book (Reprint) $15

2007 The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book (Reprint) $20

As far some of the "classics" such as The Flowing Bowl or How to Mix Cocktail by Jerry Thomas, they are full scanned versions on Google Books. While perhaps not as much fun as owning the original, they are a great resource for the recipes.

1862 How to Mix Cocktails by Jerry Thomas [DIGITAL]

1869 Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks by William Terrington [DIGITAL]

1878 American and Other Drinks by Leo EngeL [DIGITAL]

1892 The Flowing Bowl by William Schmidt [DIGITAL]

However my current favorites are:

1948 Bartender's Guide by Trader Vic - a really undervalued classic that isn't just Zombies and Scorpion Bowls.

1953 The American Drink Book by Field, S. S. - which is just a pleasure to read, make drinks with, and to read while drinking them.

Collectors lists that make me cry with envy are:

The Bitters Blog Library: http://bitters-blog-library.blogspot.com

And Dr. Cocktails collection on CocktailDB.com

-Dave

So, this might be too general of a question, and I certainly invite feedback to narrow it, but here's the gist of it:

It seems like every time I look on Ebay, etc., there's some "new" vintage cocktail book that I've never heard of.  So, which ones are worth it?  And which ones are just plain old?

To start, here's my collection of "vintage" (which I'll arbitrarily define as out of print):

Bottoms Up, Ted Saucier

Jones' Complete Bar Guide,  Stan Jones

Bartender's Guide, Trader Vic

Esquire Drinks, David Wondrich

The Official Mixer's Manual, Duffy

The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, Embury

Cocktail, Harrington

Burke's Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes, Harman Burke

I'm not including things like Jerry Thomas' book, or The Savoy Cocktial Book, as they're available in reprints. 

But what about things like:

The Cocktail Book, A Sideboard Manual for Gentlemen

Cocktail and Wine Digest, Oscar Haimo

The Art of Drinking, Dexter Mason

So, what do you all think?

Ciao,

marty

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been adding to the collection thanks to some remarkable finds at old book stores:

1943 3 Bottle Bar by H.i. Williams $2

1946 Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion by Crosby Gaige 6th Edition, SIGNED by Crosby?? $20

1946 The Gentleman's Companion by Charles H Baker SIGNED and INSCRIBED $65

1953 Esquire's Handbook for Hosts $1

1936 How to Mix Drinks by Bill Edwards $1.50

I admit that I did pay much more than usual for the 1946 Companion set but I couldn't help myself. I found it among the unsorted in the "rare" books section on the 3rd floor of the Strand Book store, New York City. They also have a nice copy of it (if it hasn't been sold yet) that was previously owed by some author, price is $75 and I took a pass on it.

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  • 1 month later...

Anyone ever flip through this...

The Gun Club Drink Book: Being a More Or Less Discursive Account of Alcoholic Beverages, Their Formulae and Uses, Together With Some Observations on the Mixing of Drinks

http://www.archersbooks.com/bookdetails.as...ok=BOOKS004646I

"Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a

claim on, even its ice compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like

food."" - Kingsley Amis

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  • 5 months later...

What's the story with "Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion" by Crosby Gaige?

Am I being dense in not really getting why the book is called a "Ladies Companion"?

I'm mostly enjoying it, but Mr. Gaige isn't quite as funny, or as interesting a writer, as he would like to think he is.

So many in-jokes, in how he has renamed cocktails, and his little bon mots about friends, as to be nearing incomprehensibility.

Someone should write a "companion".

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I've been exploring Google Books and found some real treasures.

Cooling Cups & Dainty Drinks likewise sounds like a guide for ladies home entertaining. In actuality though, has a wealth of 19th century potables better suited to sailors and miners. The book also contains many bitters recipes (Stoughton, Wine & Spiritous).

"Wives and such are constantly filling up any refrigerator they have a

claim on, even its ice compartment, with irrelevant rubbish like

food."" - Kingsley Amis

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Oooh... good reference there, TVC. I like the looks of that book quite a bit.

My bar library is concise: Baker's Gentleman's Companion, Schumann's Tropical Bar, Dr. Cocktail's book, and Harrington's Cocktail... a good base of knowledge to build experiments upon.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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What's the story with "Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion" by Crosby Gaige?

Am I being dense in not really getting why the book is called a "Ladies Companion"?

Erik ~ my assumption was that the "ladies' companion" was the single male reader of the book, not the book itself. Not a joke so much as a lame elbow in the ribs, boys'-club humor that hasn't aged well (note one companion to his multiple ladies, thus tomcatting about town).

Matthew B. Rowley

Rowley's Whiskey Forge, a blog of drinks, food, and the making thereof

Author of Moonshine! (ISBN: 1579906486)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Erik ~ my assumption was that the "ladies' companion" was the single male reader of the book, not the book itself. Not a joke so much as a lame elbow in the ribs, boys'-club humor that hasn't aged well  (note one companion to his multiple ladies, thus tomcatting about town).

Well, to be honest I think the book really is intended as a sort of tongue in cheek "Ladies' Companion".

Gaige often mentions the contributions the fairer sex has made to drinking culture since their arrival in the bar, post prohibition.

Being dense, it took me this long to realize the title is probably a bit of a play on Chas Baker's "Gentleman's Companion" books.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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  • 2 weeks later...
2004 Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh (out of print, $26-100)

today Powells put several copies online for $10; available on amazon marketplace or directly, so hurry up if you're interested :)

Me too. Thanks! :smile:

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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