I know what you’re thinking. Another cocktail blog?

I sympathize. But this is a personal project, a course of self-improvement. I aim to fix what the great American critic and satirist George Jean Nathan called “a hundred and one ridiculous mixtures”. Everyone needs a hobby, right?

These “juggling compositions” (to use Charles Lamb’s odd phrase) will be mixed using recipes drawn from, or at least inspired by, bartending manuals and cocktail books published during the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries—from, shall we say, 1862, when Jerry Thomas brought out his How to Mix Drinks, to 1963, which saw the assassination of the USA’s last great cocktail-swigging president, the rise of Beatlemania and the inexorable decline of western civilization. That’s 101 years, from the Gay Nineties through the Roaring Twenties to the cusp of the Swinging Sixties, a time of dudes, flappers and men in grey flannel suits, of Clover Clubs and the Cotton Club, dry states and dry martinis, wars, Waugh and Wodehouse.

I’m not just interested in cocktails as such, then, but in their history and place in our culture. That sounds a little grand, doesn’t it? Anyway, along the way I’ll share what I’ve found while digging around in the novels and newspapers and other ephemera of the period, and throw a little light on this lost world, the first Cocktail Age.

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