Mixing it up in 1953


In a couple of days London Cocktail Week 2013 will roll into town, hiccuping gently and wiping Whisky Sour froth off the end of its nose. I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll be partaking in the fun this year – I was briefly tempted by the Three-Martini Lunch, but then I remembered that a) I have a job and b) I don’t actually like martinis.

However, I’ve just been given a rather wonderful (and timely) present – a copy of the United Kingdom Bartenders’ Guild Guide to Drinks from 1953. Behold!

Transparent BackgroundThe cover alone is enough to earn this dinky little book a place in my heart, but the pages inside offer a peek into a lost world of spindly-legged bar stools, smoking indoors and maraschino cherries with everything. The UKBG, which was founded in 1933 and is still going today, issued a volume every couple of years to its members briefing them on all aspects of their noble calling. First up: essential utensils.


I particularly love the sniffy bit about frozen daiquiris not being ‘in great demand in this country at the present time’. That’s them told.


This well-appointed bar at The Albany Club gets the thumbs up from the Guide’s authors. They approve of the washing-up facilities, as well as the abundance of olives and ashtrays. Personally, I think it looks a bit like a crime scene. But quite a stylish one, I’ll give you that.


There’s also an advertisement for Pimms, which is endorsed here by the Chuckle Brothers.


Puffing away behind the bar = a big no-no. Ditto lavishing attention on personable female drinkers while neglecting their toupee-sporting companions. I’m still struggling with the idea of serving a cocktail when it’s ‘smiling at you’, though. I often grin at mine, particularly as the evening wears on, but I’ve never yet known one to return the compliment.

The Guide also contains a comprehensive recipe index. Not all of the drinks listed appeal (Anyone for a Duchess? Sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and absinthe…), but some don’t look half bad. I’ve got my eye on the Brandy Crusta, which sounds a bit like an Old Fashioned’s primmer, more proper cousin.

Brandy Crusta
Rub the rim of a 5oz wineglass with a slice of lemon.
Dip edge in powdered sugar.
Fit into glass the ring of one half orange in spiral fashion.
Fill glass with cracked ice.
Put into a mixing glass: 1 dash Angostura Bitters, 3 dashes Maraschino and 2oz Brandy.
Stir and strain into prepared glass.
Add Maraschino cherry.

Cheers, all.

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