Tag Archives: Harry Craddock

54. Silver jubilee cocktails

2 Jun

Sir Stafford Cripps, leader of the Socialist wing of the English Labor party and often mentioned as Britain’s next Prime Minister . . . classed the King’s Silver Jubilee as National Government propaganda.

— “Cripps Visits Cambridge, Scoffs at King’s Jubilee”, Boston Daily Globe, 28 April 1935, p. A8.

This weekend Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee, having selflessly clung to the throne for 60 years and spared the British nation the prospect of King Charles III. It seems an appropriate opportunity, then, to travel back to 1935, when her grandfather, George V, marked his own Silver Jubilee, batting 25 years not out on a far stickier wicket (his cousins Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicolas II had long since been forcibly retired to the pavillion). For this was a prolific moment in cocktail history.

The Silver Jubilee celebrations were scheduled to last for three months, beginning on 6 May, the anniversary of the King-Emperor’s coronation in 1910, with a thanksgiving service in St Paul’s Cathedral, and culminating in the Cowes Week yachting regatta. In between there were balls, processions, musical festivals, military tattoos, and street parties across the country. The often-grimy capital was transformed, putting on its party-dress, its buildings draped in flowers and monuments floodlit. The photographer Cecil Beaton remembered that “London had the air of a Valentine in its gala-trimming . . . the public squares were festooned and garlanded almost beyond recognition; every house seemed to have been freshly painted, and hung with swags and flags; the window-boxes were stacked with marguerites; everywhere were crowns and emblems of festivity” (Cecil Beaton’s Scrapbook [New York: Scribner’s, 1937], p. 6).

Outside of London the ceremonies were inevitably a little more pagan:

In the country, the brass band blared, and all the villagers turned out to watch the goings-on: the infirm were wheeled into the porch or peeped from the windows. The pageant was headed by a group dressed in fancy costumes of miscellaneous origin, and in a remote village there were Italian peasants and hula-hula dancers . . . Lorries passed disguised as flowering arbours, smithies, Theocritean dairy farms. There followed a cavalcade of the early kings and queens of England (though to the anguish of the lady organiser James II was lost), while the later Royalty was compelled to tread delicately in their wake. The industries and produce of Britain figured in the pageant play, and the arrival of the village postmistress was greeted with the shout “Hail, Butter.” Hanging over the pleasure-garden railings, pointing and giggling hysterically, dressed in fantastic costumes of brilliantly-coloured paper, representing strange birds and flowers—one with a huge upturned daisy on its head, another in a sunburst halo of petals, and yet another in a top hat, to which was affixed the cryptic question “Who am I?”—were the lunatics from the local asylum, their faces twisted and knotted, but madly gay.

The procession halted in the market square in time to hear its own speech from the King through the radio. No other royal celebration had ever seemed so personal, and, when night had fallen on the jubilant village, strange ghosts of the past, some on white horses, carrying flares, mingled with the crowds and streamed onto the Downs to light the bonfire. One after another, for miles around, pin-points of light burst into being. All over the country these beacons, once lit only for war, were now offering to Their Majesties the most united symbol of loyalty that the country could give. [ibid., p. 8]

Like the royal wedding of 1922, the jubilee bash was meant to foster a sense of unity and solidarity in the people, regardless of social class, throughout Britain and her global empire. The event was largely successful in that respect: the New York Times noticed that the rubbernecks filling the capital’s streets, so many that traffic had to be stopped, were “different from the ordinary London crowd that flocks to see royal pageantry.” On this occasion it was “suburban families” who had “brought their children to town to gape at the gilded Britannia that towers ninety feet above the roof of Selfridge’s store or to admire the flowers massed in windows from one end of Regent Street to the other”, “elderly women from seaside boarding houses”, “retired officials”, “seamen from London docks who one seldom sees in the West End of London” (“Jubilee Throngs Stream to London”, New York Times, 5 May 1935, p. E4). And the thousands welcoming the king and queen to the vermin-ridden slums of the East End, some following the royal procession on roller skates and bicycles, were no less enthusiastic than the multitudes lining the Mall, even at the expense of political consistency. “Lousy, but loyal” declared one improvised banner; “Down with capitalism—God save the King!” urged another. But British communists were predictably less indulgent. The Daily Worker newspaper dubbed the extravagant £5000 Silver Jubilee banquet “Royal Squandermania”, and a manifesto by the leaders of the “London First of May Committee” described the years since George V’s coronation as “Twenty-five years of robbery of workers in which  millions of our brothers have been slain, mutilated, gassed and tortured” (“Reds in Britain See Jubilee as ‘Royal Squandermania’”, Gettysburg Times, 26 April 1935, p. 6).

Bolshevik killjoys notwithstanding, the monarch was taken aback by the warmth with which he was received by his subjects and concluded in his diary: “I am beginning to think they must really like me for myself.” Not exactly, George. The public’s high spirits were not just affection for the king as an individual and loyalty to the Crown, or even love of well-choreographed show, the New York Times observed:

It is not a man but a reign that is being commemorated throughout the empire Monday. This time there is little of the intensely personal feeling that dominated Queen Victoria’s jubilee when the old Queen had been on the throne sixty years and had become a living legend. When the crowds cheer for King George Monday morning they will also in a very real sense be cheering for themselves. They will be thinking of all they have endured and achieved in the twenty-five years since the King came to the throne. Not many of them imagine the King has had a decisive influence over the events of those troubled years. […] Yet the fact that King George is still on the throne is a symbol to the British people that they themselves have come through terrible trials and that when other countries have been broken and other monarchies gone up in smoke their country and its free institutions are still intact.

— “Jubilee Throngs Stream to London”, New York Times, 5 May 1935, p. E4.

Perhaps to counter the criticisms of the Left, that these imperial self-celebrations, and even the institution of monarchy itself, were a waste of money at a time when the nation could ill afford such profligacy, it was claimed that the jubilee would not help “restore good times throughout the country” but bring ‘profitable employment of thousands of people”—mainly through the mass production of royalist tat. Potteries worked round the clock churning out souvenir mugs and plates, foundries cast millions of medals, printers published millions of books and programs, the colonial office issued a special series of stamps, the manufacturers of flags and bunting were at full stretch. And that was just the beginning, according to the Washington Post:

New women’s fashions are being developed and considerable employment is promised in this line. […] Makers of artificial flowers cannot supply the demand. […] In this branch of industry new hands are being constantly broken in. Electricians are beginning to reap a harvest. Floods of light will be the rule at all places of assembly and along many main streets. More employment will be given in all parts of the empire by the planting of commemorative trees. One town in England has signified its intention of planting 10,000 trees along its local roadways.

— “Great Britain’s Silver Jubilee is Creating Jobs, Washington Post, 31 March 1935, p. S11.

While all this was going on London’s best bartenders were busy inventing their own tributes to the King-Emperor. The Café Royal Cocktail Book contains no fewer than 13 cocktails with a jubilee theme. This Stakhanovite effort led to some complications, as the Baltimore Sun reported:

London’s cocktail world is shaken by an unusual mix-up during the silver jubilee. The Bartenders’ Guild decided to copyright the use of the names “Jubilation” and “Silver Jubilee” given to two new cocktails invented by its president, Harry Craddock, of the Savoy. By coincidence Tony, of the Trocadero Restaurant, and Alex, of the Cumberland Hotel, two other cocktail experts, each made cocktails and christened them by the same names.

— “Jubilee Cocktails”, Baltimore Sun, 19 May 1935, p. TM3.

Legal action was threatened by both the Guild and the two rival mixologists, but the dispute appears to have been resolved amicably enough. Three of Craddock’s Jubilee-themed recipes were subsequently included in the Café Royal Cocktail Book, and none carry the names mentioned in the newspaper article. In fact, the only cocktail bearing the title “Silver Jubilee” is the rather unfortunate creation of the book’s author, W. J. Tarling, a glop as sickly-sweet as the outpourings of royalist fervour:

½ Booth’s dry gin

¼ fresh cream

¼ crème de Banane (banana liqueur)

I suspect Tarling may have been a closet republican. A little better, but not by much, is the Jubilee Rhapsody by Laurie Ross:

2/3 gin

1/6 Danzig silver water

1/12 lemon juice

1/12 blue Curaçao

Rim of glass crusted with  sugar.

(Danzig silver water, I’m assuming, was a brand of lightly sparkling silver water, so I found something suitable to stand in for it.)

The clear winners, both by Harry Craddock (an American, of course), stuck to tried-and-trusted combinations and were all the better for it:

Royal Jubilee King’s Jubilee
¼ lemon juice ¼ lemon juice
¼ Cointreau ¼ Luxardo’s Maraschino
½ Calvados ½ Daiquiri rum

Three cheers for the king! Well, two cheers. OK, let’s just leave it at “cheers”!

52. Leap year cocktail

29 Feb

In a paper setting an examination in general knowledge, British schoolboys were asked to explain the origin or meaning of the word “bissextile”. One hasty youth in the Fourth Form, with a genius for improvisation, gave as his answer: “Leap-year is called a bisexual year because women are obliged to propose to men on the extra day in February.”

— “Topics of the Times”, New York Times, 14 March 1932.

2012 is a leap year. And so to celebrate the spuriously venerable tradition of “ladies’ privilege”, according to which women may during the intercalary year propose marriage without waiting for a man to make the first move for fear of being branded a harlot, a tradition supposedly enshrined in English common law, but not really, and now hopefully obsolete (except as the lazy premise of flop romantic comedies), let’s sip a cocktail designed by Harry Craddock.

The Leap Year Cocktail, which was created, Mr Craddock informs us, “for the Leap Year celebrations at the Savoy Hotel, London, on February 29th, 1928”, was allegedly responsible “for more proposals than any other cocktail that has ever been mixed”. Whether it was meant to stiffen feminine resolve or cause a chap to go weak at the knees is uncertain; probably both, as was claimed of a clutch of identically named cocktails a generation later:

Arthur Flynn, tap-room proprietor, is featuring two “Leap Year” cocktails which he says are unbeatable for getting the job done.

A gin-and-orange juice concoction is advertised as making a girl “irresistible”. A Scotch and vermouth on ice, says Flynn, will render a fellow “immovable”.

Thus far, no fellow and girl have come in at the same time to try their respectively recommended cocktails.

— “‘Leap Year’ Cocktails to Help Out Cupid”, Hartford Courant, 30 July 1956, p. 6.

Here’s how to prepare Craddock’s drink, which today celebrates its 21st birthday:

1 Dash Lemon Juice.

2/3 Gin.

1/6 Grand Marnier.

1/6 Italian Vermouth.

Shake well and serve in cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Now, it’s clear from a new item printed in the New York Times in December 1928 that some men who entered into a bissextile marriage had an altogether erroneous idea of what such a union entailed:

The one redeeming feature of being a “leap year husband” has been dissipated for Herman Matten. Sued for non-support, Matten told Judge Edgar Jones in Domestic Relations Court that following his marriage last April he quit his job because he was a “leap year husband”. Judge Jonas [sic] was not impressed. He told Matten, who is 45 years old, to pay his wife, Ida, $10 a week.

— “Leap Year Husband Must Support Wife”, New York Times, 30 December 1928.

That fellow’s dickishness, it turns out, is far from unusual. The same paper’s earlier editorial assertion that leap year was a “humbug”, that all it had to boast about was 29 February, a day that usually came and went without anyone noticing, and that the “inferiority of the male sex on that day is not accounted more conspicuous than on the other days” (“Leap Year”, New York Times, 2 January 1912), is generally correct. Leap year seems with depressing regularity—quadrennially, in fact—to have been used as an excuse for ungentlemanly behaviour. How about a few more examples?

In 1884 a “charming young widow of 33”, Elizabeth Wittmer, received a visit from a John Coch, who “placed her wedding ring on his finger and took it away with him, under the pretense that he could not get it off.” His defence? “Mr Coch told Justice Murray that Mrs Wittmer took advantage of leap year and gave him the ring as a token of their engagement. He was held” (“Taking Advantage of Leap Year”, New York Times, 3 April, 1884). A similar story was rehearsed some years later by Walter Hettrick, the “candy kid” of West Brighton, Staten Island, after his arraignment on a charge of grand larceny: “The whole trouble was that she wanted me to marry her,” he explained. “Just because it is a leap year she thought she could make me do it, I guess. But I didn’t want to marry her, so I came home.” The supposed seductress was fifteen-year-old Bella Clark, whom Hettrick, older by two years, accused of having eloped with him. “Bella shook her pretty head in indignation when it was suggested that she had taken advantage of the prerogative of leap year,” but otherwise there was no dispute as to what had happened. After falling for “the dapper Walter” three weeks earlier, and her head full of romantic notions, Bella snatched $95 from her father’s pocket and bought tickets to Buffalo. But by the time they reached Albany, the pair got cold feet and turned back. Meanwhile, though, “Bella’s father, failing to see the romance in the affair, had sworn out a warrant for the arrest of the youngsters, and when they returned they were locked up. Walter is held in $1000 bail for examination, and Bella was left with the Children’s Society to mourn her shattered romance” (“Says Girl Made Him Elope”, Chicago Tribune, 2 March 1908, p. 5).

But this last tale, despite its ostensibly “happy” ending, is the pick of the bunch:

Declaring in an affidavit filed yesterday morning that he is a leap-year husband and was forced to marry at the point of a gun in the lady’s hands, Robert G. Arthur . . .  sued to have his marriage of Thursday afternoon to Miss Mary P. Reese of Hutchinson, Kas., annulled on the ground of duress.

Last night as he folded his pretty bride in his arms in the garage where he is employed . . . Mr McArthur [sic] declared the filing of the suit was all a mistake and stated the action had been taken at the behest of friends who wished to meddle in the affair. He says he will have the annulment suit stopped at once and will do all he can to make up for the suffering he has caused his bride. […]

In the suit which Mr Arthur filed yesterday, he alleged that Miss Reese called him up Wednesday night about 10 o’clock and demanded that he call at her apartments at No. 225 West Twenty-Fifth Street immediately.

He went, wondering. Immediately after he greeted Miss Reese, he said, she closed and locked the door and kept him imprisoned for fourteen hours. What occurred in that room is not stated, but briefly the complaint states that Miss Reese threatened Mr Arthur with a weapon. He says he was menaced that night, and in the morning, under the influence of the weapon, he accompanied her to the marriage license bureau and took out a license. Still under the fear of disaster if he backed out, they were married, he said.

The story that developed last night, however, at the time of the reconciliation varies considerably from this. […] The two had known each other more than a year and had frequently discussed matrimony. […] Prior to their wedding, at the Alhambra apartments, Mr Arthur went alone to purchase a ring and later left his bride-to-be at a picture show while he had the ring made smaller. According to witnesses Mr Arthur’s ardor did not cool until Friday morning when he left his bride without telling her of his change of heart. Mrs Arthur says she is willing to let bygones be bygones and has taken her husband, who towers right inches above her, and weighs almost 200 pounds, back to her heart.

Mr Arthur states he is 24. His bride is 29.

— “Leap Year is Over-Blamed”, Los Angeles Times, 9 January 1916, p. 12.

50. Strike’s Off cocktail

14 Feb

“The strike’s off, isn’t it? Th’fool thought because I couldn’t see ’em I couldn’t hear ’em dragging along past th’window on their way to th’yards. You’ve done us again. Eh, damn ’em, I knew they’d give in when I dropped out. They’ve none of them the spirit I had when I was their age.”

— Storm Jameson, The Voyage Home (New York: Knopf, 1930), p. 215.

Next day the General Strike was called off and the country everywhere, except in the coal-fields, returned to normal. It was as though a beast long fabled for its ferocity had emerged for an hour, scented danger, and slunk back to its lair.

— Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (London: Methuen, 1978 [1945]), p. 230.

“The general strike is over”, announced Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in a BBC radio address to the nation on 12 May 1926. For nine days an estimated 1.5 million workers had downed tools in the first and only such showdown between organised labour and the government in British history. Those Nine Days had brought unprecedented disruption, divided the country, stoked fears of revolution, but ended in a humiliating defeat for the strikers. Baldwin, who had successfully managed Britain’s gravest domestic political crisis of the interwar years, could afford to sound gracious. “I am certain,” he assured the public, “that our whole duty at the moment is to forget all recrimination. Let employers act with generosity and workers put their whole hearts loyally into their work. Waste no time in determining the share of blame for anything. Let us set England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland going again.”

The scene for the General Strike had been set a year before. The economy was depressed, there was high unemployment, and the Government’s misguided decision to return to the gold standard had led to a decline in exports. The mining industry in particular was in trouble, threatened by the influx of cheap coal from the Ruhr, part of Germany’s post-war reparations payments under the Dawes Plan, and mine owners’ reluctance to modernize. Their short-sighted solution, as so often, was to demand a cut in wages and an increase in working hours. In response, the Miners’ Federation (whose leader, A.J. Cook, issued the famous campaign slogan “Not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day”), backed up by the National Union of Railwaymen and the National Transport Workers’ Federation, threatened to embargo the movement of coal.

From: Punch, 12 May 1926, p. 505.

Alarmed, the government stepped in and offered to subsidise miners’ pay for nine months while a report on the industry—the Samuel Commission—was conducted. The unions declared a victory for working-class solidarity, but the government was actually using the truce to buy time. While workers were whistling The Red Flag, it was taking measures to prepare for a future emergency, consolidating coal stocks and laying the groundwork for a volunteer force of strikebreakers who would maintain essential services. When the Samuel Commission finally published its findings, recommending that the subsidy be withdrawn and wages reduced, the proposed compromise found favour with neither miners nor mine owners. Nervous of a confrontation with the government, and terrified of the more radical elements within its own ranks, the General Council of the Trade Union Congress, in conjunction with a Labour Party keen to hold on to its newly acquired respectability, spent frantic weeks negotiating and trying to find common ground between the irreconcilable parties. With miners facing a lock-out on 1 May, when the subsidy was due to expire, the members of the TUC voted almost unanimously (by 3.5 million to 50,000) in favour of a general strike. Despite having committed itself to a general strike from midnight on 3 May, the General Council treacherously resumed negotiations with the government, putting wage cuts back on the table, but talks again broke down on 2 May, when the government walked away after members of a small print union at the Daily Mail refused to typeset an editorial denouncing the imminent strike as revolutionary and subversive. With just two hours to go before the strike began, Labour Party leaders, who were more desperate to avert industrial action than the members of the Tory Cabinet, pushed for yet more discussion. Their attempt failed. Midnight struck, and millions of workers followed suit.

Although the reaction to the strike call was immediate and overwhelming, catching the TUC off-guard, this was never meant to be a true “general strike”: it was hoped that limiting the action to unions in the “first line”—to workers in transport, printing, the dockyards and construction—would be enough to force concessions without endangering lives or alienating public opinion. That was a forlorn hope. Even as Britain ground to a halt, the government, which immediately put its contingency plans into effect and painted the strike as a seditious attack on the “British Constitution” (whatever that might be), was never going to capitulate; in fact, it saw the events as an opportunity to curb union power once and for all.

From: Punch, 19 May 1926, p. 523.

What’s more, the middle classes rallied to the government’s side, just as enthusiastically as the workers took to the picketing line, with thousands queuing at the Downing Street headquarters of the Emergency Recruiting Committee to sign up for “national service” (and the chance to fulfil childhood dreams) as special constables, bus conductors and train drivers. The scenes, according to the New York Times, “were similar to those in war time”, although on this occasion many of the volunteers were women (“both young shop girls and women of fashion”) and some arrived in limousines (“Rush to Aid Government”, New York Times, 4 May 1926, pp. 1-2). In this topsy-turvy world retired army officers, socialites and undergraduates gladly performed the most menial of tasks. The mood that these Saturnalian incongruities had aroused in the well-to-do was ably described by a budding actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in a letter to her mother:

It’s really fine to see how nice and good-tempered everybody is about the strike. When I arrived at Paddington there were no ordinary porters, but I had a very good-looking man, medical student he looked like, who seized my suitcases. I wanted to get to Baker Street so he and I explored passages with locked gates to try to find Praed Street; he knew nothing about it apparently. Eventually he went outside and stood in the middle of the road and shouted “Baker Street” to the first car that came along. And it stopped, and I got in and luggage, and went to Baker Street. There everybody carries your luggage for you, and is awfully nice. It is perfectly mad to hear, instead of “‘Arrer ‘n’ Uxbridge”, a beautiful Oxford voice crying “Harrow and Uxbridge train”. Ticket collectors say thanks you very much; one guard of a train due to depart, an immaculate youth in plus fours, waved a green flag. Nothing happened. He waved again and blew a whistle, then said to the driver in injured tones, “I say, you might go.” It’s all very jolly, and such an improvement on the ordinary humdrum state of things.

— Julian Symons, The General Strike (London, Cresset Press, 1957), pp. 78-9.

From: Punch, 26 May 1926 p. 563.

Foreign observers who were expecting chaos, violence and revolution seemed disappointed by the “spirit of cheerful courage” and “strange nonchalance” with which Britons continued to go about their business and pleasure. Theatres and cinemas remained open (though largely empty), and, most famously, while the racing calendar was interrupted, the Cabinet agreed on 5 May “that cricket should not be stopped” (CAB/23/52). After all, the Australians were on tour (and England would later that summer regain the Ashes). Most social engagements were cancelled, but even this was not universally the case: “One hostess . . . had arranged a party for tonight. She spent most of the day telephoning her prospective guests that the party would take place but that evening garb was not essential. ‘Come in tweeds,’ was her slogan, ‘but do come.’” (Ernest Marshall, “Lively Scenes in London”, New York Times, 5 May 1926, pp. 1-2). What explained this phlegmatic response? The New York Times surmised that it “may possibly be due to the unprecedented character of the pending general strike and lack of imagination as to what such a strike may mean, or it may equally be that the public generally retains its faith that the Government and those closely concerned with the dispute will not permit such a calamity to afflict the nation. (“Public in Calm Mood”, New York Times, 3 May 1926). Congressman Emanuel Celler of New York, a “wet Democrat”, had another theory: he attributed the “order that prevailed in England during the strike” to the “absence of prohibitory laws”, which had “bred disrespect for all laws in this country” (“Explains Calm of Britain”, New York Times, 14 May 1926, p. 6).

Throughout the nine days the strike held firm, but it was the leadership of the TUC, reluctant from the outset, who blinked first. Without securing the agreement of the Miners’ Federation or an undertaking from the employers that sacked miners would be reinstated, the General Council called off the strike on 12 May. “Peace with Honour” proclaimed the headline of the British Worker newspaper, but there was nothing honourable about the way in which the strikers, and especially the miners, had been sold out. Disheartened, workers began to drift back to work. The miners fought on for another seven months, but by November they had been compelled to return to the pits on the worst possible terms. Union membership slumped. In 1927 the government passed the Trades Disputes Act, which made both general and sympathetic strikes illegal.

Meanwhile, in the bar of the Savoy Hotel, Harry Craddock and his well-heeled patrons were celebrating the end of the General Strike. “Let us set England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland going again,” Baldwin had said in his radio address. The Strike’s Off cocktail, created on May 12, 1926, was Craddock’s own response to the Prime Minister’s appeal. Appropriately enough, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth:

¼ Lemon or Lime Juice.

¼ Swedish Punch.

½ Gin.

48. Eclipse cocktail

4 Jan

We look up, apprehending disaster, and see, suddenly, a blunt snout sniffing at the sun. Black with all the blackness of absolute negation of colour, it thrusts forward, eating away the gold.

— Richard Church, “The Heavens are Telling”, Spectator, vol. 138, no. 5165 (25 June 1927), pp. 1116-7 (p. 1116).

[W]e had been allowed our vision.

— “The Eclipse”, Times, 30 June 1927, p. 17.

It was the most exciting eclipse I have ever slept through.

— Gerald Gould, “The Late Eclipse”, Saturday Review, vol. 144, no. 3740 (2 July 1927), pp. 9-10 (p. 9).

On 29 June 1927 the first total solar eclipse in 203 years was seen over the British mainland. Starting at 6:23 am, just after the break of day, an area extending from North Wales to the North Sea, from Criccieth to Hartlepool, was plunged back into darkness for between 22 and 24 seconds.

The event caused nationwide excitement. For weeks beforehand the press had been ginning up interest, running articles, scientific and pseudo-scientific, on astronomy, sharing tips on how safely to observe the phenomenon, publishing train timetables and road maps, and giving directions for travel to the zone of totality.  It worked. An unprecedented number of people went on the move, pouring into a strip of land 39 miles wide, straining the transport infrastructure to the limit, and stood shivering on hillsides to watch the eclipse. According to advance estimates 260,000 made the journey by rail, 175,000 by bus and 160,000 in cars. The New York Times was not exaggerating when it declared that “eclipse fever had gripped England” (26 June 1927, p. 2). One of the most famous pilgrims in late June was Virginia Woolf, who travelled with friends and family to Richmond in Yorkshire on the London and North-East Railway. “Trains like ours were starting all over England at that very moment to see the dawn,” she later wrote. “All noses were pointing North. When for a moment we halted in the depths of the country, there were the pale yellow lights of motor cars also pointing North. There was no sleep, no fixity in England that night. All were travelling North. All were thinking of the dawn.” (“The Sun and the Fish” [1928], Selected Essays [Oxford University Press, 2008], pp. 188-92 [p. 189]). (A typically London-centric remark: some were actually travelling south.)

On the Sunday before the 29th, which was a Wednesday, clergymen gave opportunistic sermons on texts like “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork” (New York Times, 26 June 1927, p. 2), and some small religious sects fervently prayed in anticipation of the Second Coming. But most Britons, then as now, were intent on partying. All along the corridor of darkness arrangements were made by hoteliers, restaurateurs and publicans to entertain the hordes of visitors. Many towns and villages held all-night “eclipse dances”; picture palaces and cafés were open into the small hours; licensing and amusement restrictions were relaxed (“Night Before Eclipse to be Gay in Britain”, New York Times, 19 June 1927, p. E2); at Richmond, near the central line of totality, a week-long list of entertainments included a lecture, competitions, whist drives, fetes, a cricket match and culminated in an all-night dance on the castle green (“Corrected Path of Eclipse”, Times, 21 May 1927, p. 9). In Southport, which in a souvenir programme billed itself as the “Eclipse Town” and managed to attract crowds of 250,000, the elaborate festivities were capped with an open-air jazz concert before dawn (“From the Sands at Southport”, Times, 30 June 1927, p. 18). All this carousing seemed rather heathen, the writer Sylva Norman thought, as she walked through Wharfedale in the early morning: “In the Town Hall the local Eclipse Dance was in full swing, nearing its culmination. The credulous savage beats drums to scare off the devourer of the sun; here we use drums and saxophones to herald its approach and celebrate its swallowing” (“Eclipse Madness”, Nation and Athenaeum, vol. 41, 9 July 1927, pp. 477-8 [p. 477]). That impression was shared by Woolf. As she and hundreds of others stood with teeth chattering in the morning gloom on Bardon Fell, it struck her that “[w]e were very, very old; we were men and women of the primeval world come to salute the dawn. So the worshippers at Stonehenge must have looked among tussocks of grass and boulders of rock” (pp. 189-90).

From: Punch, vol. 172 (29 June, 1929), p. 687.

While Sir Frank Dyson, the Astronomer Royal, professed not to be too worried about poor weather ruining the spectacle, since the British Astronomical Association had taken the precaution of dividing its forces among eight different stations spread across the region, a party of bookmakers arrived at Giggleswick, where Dyson was based, and offered odds of 7 to 2 that clouds would obscure the eclipse. Those in the tourist industry, certainly, were concerned that the British summer, which was even wetter than usual, might conspire against them, and many took out insurance to protect them against potential losses if the night of the 28th proved to be a wash-out. In the event Sir Frank had chosen his spot wisely: Hartlepool was overcast and Southport misty, but at Giggleswick the clouds broke at just the right moment. The New York Times was on hand to describe the events:

The scene during the eclipse at Giggleswick was weird and inspiring. As a voice from the astronomical party called “Two minutes”, thousands on the hillside passed the word along that the vital moment was near. The strange yellowish twilight faded away as if an unseen hand was slowly turning down an ordinary gas light. Then shadow seemed to rush over the gathering. There was intense silence everywhere. Even the birds which had been twittering earlier now were still. Then the watchers saw the sun, a black ball in a sky of gunmetal gray, outlined by a glowing, iridescent, irregular circle of fiery light from which red and yellow flames seemed to shoot. While all eyes in the group about the astronomical party were riveted upon these strange pyrotechnics about the black disc the voice of one of Sir Frank Dyson’s assistants intoned the passing seconds solemnly, as in Druidic ritual. As the voice called “twenty-three”, a dazzling flash of reddish-white light, brilliant as molten metal in some blast furnace, burst from the left upper rim of the darkened sun. It bulged into a blazing oval. Darkness was passing. From somewhere behind the camp came the sounds of cheering. Dawn had arrived. The sun had returned. Birds sang and the crowd began to break up across the ne[a]rby hills.

— “Sun’s Eclipse Awes Crowds in England”, New York Times, 30 June 1927, p. 27.

Pupils at Oundle School view the eclipse.

While reporters flapped their waxen wings and soared ever higher on their poetical flights of fancy, it was, unsurprisingly, Virginia Woolf who best captured the emotional experience of the eclipse and the shattering realisation of the fragility and ephemerality of life it evoked:

The shadow growing darker and darker over the moor was like the heeling over of a boat, which, instead of righting itself at the critical moment, turns a little further and then a little further; and suddenly capsizes. So the light turned and heeled over and went out. This was the end. The flesh and blood of the world was dead and only the skeleton was left. It hung beneath us, frail; brown; dead; withered. Then, with some trifling movement, this profound obeisance of the light, this stooping down and abasement of all splendour was over. Lightly, on the other side of the world up it rose; it sprang up as if the one movement, after a second’s tremendous pause, competed the other and the light which had died here, rose again elsewhere. Never was there such a sense of rejuvenescence and recover. All the convalescences and respite of life seemed rolled into one. Yet at first, so pale and frail and strange the light was sprinkled rainbow-like in a hoop of colour, that it seemed as if the earth could never live decked out in such frail tints. It hung beneath us, like a cage, like a hoop, like a globe of glass. It might be blown out; it might be stove in. But steadily and surely our relief broadened and our confidence established itself as the great paint brush washed in woods, dark on the valley, and massed the hills blue above them. The world became more and more solid; it became populous; it became a place where an infinite number of farm-houses, of villages, of railway lines have lodgment; until the whole fabric of civilisation was modelled and moulded. But still the memory endured that the earth we stand on is made of colour; colour can be blown out; and then we stand on a dead leaf; and we who tread the earth securely now have seen it dead.

— Woolf, p. 191.

And what is the best way of preserving that memory? In a cocktail, of course. Enter Mr Harry Craddock:

This is an age of gastronomy as well as astronomy, and a dish or a cocktail has now become accepted as the best way of perpetuating a name of a memory says a correspondent of the New York Herald Tribune. When the next total eclipse occurs in this country a hundred years hence there will be few things to remind the public of the spectacle which most of their ancestors didn’t see; but unless England goes dry in the meantime—an improbable event if the British climate deteriorates at its present rate, for simply by looking at the number of persons in a bar here one may estimate with close accuracy what the weather is doing outside at any given moment—there will be one survival.

Many cocktails have done honor to a lunch, but the lunch staged at the Savoy Hotel here to honor a cocktail, which in turn was created to honor the eclipse, is something new. It was created, appropriately by Harry Craddock, who claims to have shaken the last legal cocktail in the United States on the eve of prohibition. The cocktail is of a glowing red color, like an angry sky, and is made of lemon juice, grenadine, sloe gin and gin, each ingredient being poured slowly into the glass. It is one of the few cocktails that does not need shaking.

— “Cocktail ‘Eclipse’”, Washington Post, 17 August 1927, p. 6

Interestingly, that description does not quite tally with the recipe included in the Savoy Cocktail Book:

1/3 Dry Gin.

2/3 Sloe Gin.

Put enough Grenadine in a cocktail glass to cover a ripe olive. Mix the spirits together and our gently on to the Grenadine so that it does not mix. Squeeze orange peel on top.

No mention of lemon juice. And that, surely, is a mistake. Adding  ½ oz. of lemon juice to the mixture really does give it some zing. The cocktail looks better, too, if, as the Washington Post article suggests, the drink is not shaken, but poured like a pousse café. The photograph above does not do justice to the results, partly because my homemade grenadine is a little more purplish than the shop-bought stuff. The olive lies suspended between the crimson-coloured layer of grenadine at the bottom of the glass and the darker sloe gin; floating on top is the clear lemon juice, which resembles, or at least could be taken to resemble, the corona of an eclipse.

"For those who dwell outside the area of teetotality, there is no drink to eclipse Barclay's Lager".

41. Princess Mary’s Pride and Wedding Belle cocktails

8 Nov

The good natured  London crowd is  full of delight that the Princess is marrying one of her own countrymen. A friend of mine was talking to the Princess who said, “Well, one of the good results of the war is that I’ve not been obliged to marry one of my wretched German cousins.”

— Sir John Foster Fraser, “From a London Club”, Arts and Decoration, vol.16:3 (January 1922), pp. 199, 242 (p. 199).

Although forgotten today, the wedding of Princess Mary, only daughter of King-Emperor George V, to the lanky Viscount Henry Lascelles, eldest son of the Earl of Harewood, on 28 February 1922 was an important moment in the evolution of the modern monarchy. As the first major state pageant since the Armistice, and like much of the faux-traditional pomp that now surrounded the newly-minted House of Windsor (né Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), it was explicitly designed to unify and uplift what was, after four years of total war, an otherwise divided, impoverished and exhausted country. For centuries royal weddings had taken place in the smaller chapels of Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle; but, for the first time since Edmund Crouchback in 1269, the child of a reigning king was married in Westminster Abbey, a much larger stage that could accommodate this very public performance. This was not, nor was it ever intended to be, a mere “royal wedding”, but rather, in the words of more than one newspaper, a “National Wedding”, a “People’s Wedding”. It was nothing less than a symbolic renewal of the sacred vows between sovereign and subjects. (That this was precisely a national event was underscored by the fact that Mary’s husband-to-be was a fellow Briton: her betrothal to Lascelles marked the official end of the time-honoured policy of pursuing dynastic alliances in Europe, a suddenly antiquated way of doing politics in the post-Versailles world—and anyway the market value of German princelings had depreciated considerably since the boom of the nineteenth century.)

"Life’s Valentines”, Life, vol. 79 (16 February 1922), p. 16-17 (p. 16). Drawing by Ralph Barton, verses by Dorothy Parker.

The ruse worked. “Everybody knew beforehand that there would great crowds and great enthusiasm,” declared The Times, “but few, perhaps, quite realized how overpoweringly great they would be.” That day the Underground ferried an estimated 5 million passengers, and the tramcars another 2.5 million, around the capital, as the cheering, red-white-and-blue-waving multitudes were disgorged onto the streets. Journalists primly expressed their satisfaction at the gentle good humour of the masses (so much nicer than facing an unruly mob):

Squeezed and squashed and pushed hither and thither, sleepy with early rising, their legs aching with hours of standing, their chance of seeing even “the ‘oofs of the ‘orses” in the highest degree problematical, they remained invincibly cheerful and happy in waiting, with a well of unjaded loyalty ready to burst forth at the sight of the bride.

— Supplement to The Times (1 March 1922), p. i.

After all the fuss had died down, Allan Quatermain’s creator, H. Rider Haggard, breathed a sigh of relief:

The wedding of Princess Mary to Viscount Lascelles is over. Its reclamé and success has been what the Germans call ‘colossal’. I remember that of the present King very well indeed and witnessed the process etc., but I do not think there was half so much public excitement about it as there is over the union of his daughter and Lord Lascelles. But then in those days we did things more quietly; there were not so many competing newspapers to stir up enthusiasm. Cinematographs and the multitude of camera men also were unknown.

Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 (London: Cassel, 1980), 1 March 1922, p. 237.

Sir Henry was right: the wedding was above all, and unprecedentedly, a media spectacle. In that sense it was also an international phenomenon, consumed even beyond the frontiers of the Empire. Newspapers printed huge runs of souvenir supplements—the Daily Mirror, for instance, issued 3,035,571 copies of its “Royal Wedding Number” (“Incidents in Foreign Graphic Circles”, Inland Printer, vol. 69:2 [May, 1922], p. 212). The Times savoured the minutia of the big day, waxing lyrical over the “charming figure of English girlhood” who was the centre of attention, listing every one of the 2000 guests, describing the bride’s dress (another first) and, like one of today’s gossip rags, devoting an entire page to what every dame, duchess and dowager was wearing. Americans caught the fever, too. “The public wanted to know every single detail of the wedding of Princess Mary,” wrote Daily Telegraph correspondent Charles à Court Repington. “It was given columns and columns, and could not have enough. An analysis of the reasons for the extraordinary enthusiasm would be worth giving, but perhaps one may limit oneself to the statement that a Princess still reigns supreme in the American fairy tale, and that here was a real live English Princess in a golden coach who personified all the beautiful memories of nursery tales” (Charles à Court Repington, Policy and Arms [London: Hutchinson, 1924], p. 103). Newspapers vied to be the first to publish photographs of the wedding—a race won by the Boston Post, which used revenue cutters, motor launches, taxis and a special train, the latter setting a new mile a minute record for the journey from New York to Boston, to beat its rivals by over five hours (“Post ‘Special’ in Record Run to Boston”, The Fourth Estate, No. 1464, 18 March 1922, p. 20).

This was also the first royal wedding to filmed, at least in part, and the reels were shown in theatres later that same day. The Topical Fim Company employed fifteen cameramen along the route and paid a not inconsiderable £3,000 for the best vantagepoints.

And, most earth-shatteringly, this was the first royal wedding of the cocktail age (which had only recently dawned in Britain). Celebratory compounds were prepared by the capital’s mixologists:

Habitues of one of London’s most exclusive West End clubs are exulting over the success of the city’s first “cocktail tea dance”—something new in London—at which three cocktails concocted in honor of Princess Mary, who is soon to marry, were introduced.

They have been christened “the Princess Mary cocktail”, “the wedding bell” and “the royal smile”.

— “Three New Cocktails”, Washington Post (19 February 1922), p. 51.

A few inaccuracies have crept into the Post‘s report. The Royal Smile had an entirely different provenance, as we’ve seen before, unless a new drink was given an old name, and the second-listed cocktail was actually the punningly titled “Wedding Belle”. Both the latter and the Princess Mary cocktail are included in the Savoy Cocktail Book, alongside Harry Craddock’s own celebration of the occasion (apparently invented on the day itself, 28 February): Princess Mary’s Pride. Since the Princess Mary, which was invented by Harry MacElhone when he was the bartender at Ciro’s Club, consists of equal parts gin, cream and creme de cacao, I thought I’d give it a miss, but the other two are well worth a try. Both feature Dubonnet, a favourite tipple of both Mary’s bridesmaid and future sister-in-law (Queen Elizabeth, wife of George VI) and her niece (the present Queen Elizabeth).

Princess Mary’s Pride: 1/4 French Vermouth,  1/4 Dubonnet, 1/2 Calvados.

Wedding Belle: 1/6 Orange Juice, 1/6 Cherry Brandy,  1/3 Dry Gin, 1/3 Dubonnet.

38.2 Prohibition cocktail

28 Oct

The only good prohibtion drink is water.

— W.L. George, “Hail Columbia! Parthian Shots”, Harper’s Monthly Magazine, vol. 142 (May 1921), pp. 774-88 (p. 786).

The phrase “prohibition cocktail” and “prohibition drink” could mean two things in the early twentieth century. To dry mouths in dry counties, desperate for a “kick”, it was the often lethal product of amateur experiments in chemical engineering. Take this example from pre-Volstead Massachussets:

Thirsty residents of prohibition Brockton have discovered a chemical cocktail which takes the place of the old-fashioned “stretch”, a mixture of alcohol and water which has been consumed with dire results. They have found that water poured into spirits of camphor precipitates the camphor and leaves a chemical cocktail which has a flavour not unlike that of a mint julep.

Arraigned in the Taunton Police Court, William Bavot told of his experiences: “I drank four of these cocktails, your honor, and was on my way home, when I heard a noise overhead. I looked up and saw a herd of elephants flying on pink wings. They alighted on the telegraph wires over me and began to sway back and forth. The leader had hears of baby-blue color with pink patches and only one eye. The leader flapped his ears, and the band began to dance on the wires. I was so fearful that they would fall on me that I began to perspire, and then I lost consciousness. When I came to I was in the police station. Never again.”

— “Effect of New Cocktail”, Washington Post (20 June 1908), p. 6.

After the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, that sort of deadly drink—often consisting of methanol laced with artificial flavouring and coloring so that it resembled, say, whiskey or gin—became increasingly prevalent. Even if it didn’t kill you, it was hard to stomach. “There are two kinds of Prohibition cocktail,” noted Geoffrey Kerr in Vanity Fair, “the gin and lemon variety, which tastes like sulphuric acid; and what is supposed to be a dry martini, which tastes like a concentrated solution of quinine. Either kind should be regarded as purely medicinal and swallowed at one gulp” (Vanity Fair, vol. 27: 4 (February 1927), pp. 67, 110). In New York, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune, the “synthetic mixed drink” was “a nauseating draft, a melancholy, depressing drink that smells like the back room of an apothecary’s shop”. So revolting, in fact, that, according to one bootlegger, dedicated topers were turning their backs on cocktails:

“The saddest epitaph on the tombstone of Bacchus,” he said, “is that the dry Martini, the Manhattan, and the Bronx, which a few years ago were the instruments of conviviality, have now become the agents of sobriety! What a fall. Synthetic stuff has done it. The cocktail as now served on Broadway discourages drinking. No wonder the flappers and their mammas and papas are going in for hard likker straight. It’s safety first.”

— Arthur Evans, “1923 Cocktail Driving Gotham to Hard Likker”, Chicago Daily Tribune (12 December 1923), p. 12.

Sometimes, though, what was sold as booze (under the counter, of course) had no effect at all. “Manhattan and Martini Prohibition cocktails,” reported the Daily News after analysing the contents of some illicitly obtained bottles, were so innocuous that they “could be used for soothing syrup for children” (“Will Prohibition Put an End to Drunkenness?”, Daily News, 29 October 1919; repr. in Mixer and Server, vol. 28: 12 [15 December 1919], pp. 44-5 [p. 44]). In fact, that’s often precisely what it was.

“Prohibition cocktail” had a second meaning: it was another name for a temperance drink, a mixed but still legal beverage. Even before the Volstead Act went into force the term was often used mockingly:

The Bone Dry Room at the Hotel Majestic will be opened by Copeland Townsend as a “training room” for Prohibition, to let people see how they like the idea of sitting around playing checkers and drinking soft stuff.

Here are some suggestions of the menu: Water Wagon Phizz, Aris Ale, Prohibition  Cocktail, Dry Martinette, The Old Oaken Bucket, Automobile Cobbler, Aereoplane Dip and Orange Fizzade. The prices run from 25 to 60 cents.

“There will be a lot of places of this sort if Prohibition becomes a fact,” said Mr. Townsend. “I am merely taking time by the forelock and opening the first Bone Dry Room.”

— “Hotel’s Bone Dry Room”, New York Hotel Record, vol. 17:14 (25 March 1919). p. 8.

When a character in a contemporary minstrel show asks what a “prohibition cocktail” is and receives the reply: “A prohibition cocktail is a glass of milk with a prune in it” (John E. Lawrence, Dixie Minstrel First Part [Chicago: Denison, 1924], p. 25), his interlocutor is voicing a common opinion, at least among the bibulous. The very notion of a non-alcoholic “cocktail” was either nonsensical or grimly, healthily disgusting.

But some among the Dry Ascendancy saw an opportunity. Soda fountain operators, as we’ve mentioned before, were quickest to capitalize on the new status quo and earned fat profits with formulas such as this: “Prohibition Cocktail. Pour into a warmed mug ½ ounce of mint syrup, ½ teaspoonful of tincture of ginger, ½ ounce of fine quality molasses, and a dash of extract of peppermint. Fill with water” (“The Soda Fountain”, Confectioners’ and Bakers’ Gazette, vol. 40, no. 456 [10 September 1919], p. 22). And several years into the Noble Experiment Roxana B. Doran, wife of James M. Doran, the Commissioner of Industrial Alcohol, earned fleeting fame with the publication of Prohibition Punches (Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1930), the result of a nationwide campaign to popularise fruit-juice drinks. Her own recipe for “1930 Cocktail” was composed of grapefruit juice, pineapple jucie, limes and ginger ale, garnished with fruit and a spring of mint (“Mrs Doran Introduces New Cocktail at Dinner”, Baltimore Sun [2 January 1930], p. 2).

So that’s the background to Harry Craddock’s cheekily named “Prohibition Cocktail” in the Savoy Cocktail Book. This one, at least if enjoyed outside the US, was legal, delivered a kick and actually tasted nice. It was everything other prohibition cocktails were not. Even more cheekily, it’s almost exactly the same as Craddock’s Charlie Lindbergh cocktail: the sole difference is that this recipe calls for a single dash of apricot brandy, not two (the Lindbergh also specifically calls for the proprietary brandy Pricota):

½  Plymouth Gin

½  Kina Lillet

2 Dashes Orange Juice

1 Dash Apricot Brandy

Squeeze lemon peel on top.

From: “Advertisements You Have Never Seen”, Life, vol. 70 (25 October 1917), p. 676.

38. Charlie Lindbergh cocktail

24 Oct

His light, luxurious hair is at the same time one of his outstanding characteristics and reportedly one of his greatest aversions. Friends say that he fears his curly hair, if there is anything in the world he fears. They tell that he wets it and tries all manner of methods in an attempt to render it inconspicuous. There is even a story, well vouched for, that on days when the weather is damp Lindbergh is the most apt to be ill-natured for on such days his hair is likely to become unruly.

— Dale Van Every, Charles Lindbergh: His Life (New York: Appleton, 1927), pp. 8-9.

In his way, he [the statue of Jean Jacques Dessalines] seemed to symbolize the Haiti of former years, which had so gloried in its freedom from foreign domination. His back was turned resolutely upon Hospital Hill, where Marine Corps officers now dwelt in the flower-shrowded [sic] chateaux which once had housed the local politicians and statesmen. Or perhaps he was merely expressing contempt for the two peppy, up-to-date cafes which cultivated American patronage by advertising: “Ice Cream, Sandwiches, Beer on Draught,” or “Try our Lindbergh Cocktail!”

— Harry L. Foster, Combing the Caribbees (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1929), p. 133.

In June 1919, just 15 ½ years after the Wright Flyer’s 12-second maiden flight, British aviators Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown became the first men to fly non-stop over the Atlantic Ocean. After starting in Newfoundland and landing nose-first in a Connemara bog 16 hours and 27 minutes later, they made headlines around the world, were carried aloft by Londoners and received knighthoods from George V. But their faces did not appear on shaving mugs and commemorative plates. They weren’t showered with awards from foreign dignitaries. Brecht and Weill didn’t compose a radio cantata about their exploits. They didn’t become the avatars of the aviation age. No one named a cocktail after them.¹ And, sooner than it ought to have done, their daredevilry slipped from popular memory.

Yet almost a century after he made the first solo transatlantic flight in 1927, we all still remember Charles A. Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis. When, after his astonishing display of bravery, and 33 ½ hours in the cockpit, an exhausted Lindbergh stepped on to the runway at Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he made sure to pay tribute to Alcock and Brown. No one was listening, though, and the undemonstrative 25-year-old, blandly, blondly handsome, was instantly transformed into a celebrity, a conquering hero, a demigod by the flashbulbs of the waiting press. Crowds rushed to touch him, or tried to strip his plane for souvenirs, or grabbed at his hair to take away a relic. Presidents, kings and latter-day Caesars lavished extravagant praise upon him. “A superhuman will has taken space by assault and has subjugated it,” wrote Benito Mussolini with characteristic bombast to the American ambassador in Rome. “Matter once more has yielded to spirit, and the prodigy is one that will live forever in the memory of men” (The Flight of Captain Charles A. Lindbergh from New York to Paris, May 20-21 1927, As Compiled from the Official Records of the Department of State [Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1927], p. 18). Mussolini was not the only observer in whom Lindbergh’s flight into the wild blue yonder inspired purple prose. Many felt a keen desire to seek the higher meaning of his triumph. The Reverend Seldon P. Delany, for example, sermonized that the pilot had provided a “practical lesson in mystical religion” by setting forth into the unknown and trusting in God. Another pastor, Ralph W. Sockman, agreed that Lindbergh was an excellent role model, saying that the “courage of our aviators . . . is a tonic for the souls of men. We do well to remember that anonymous heroes among us are showing similar hardihood in the spiritual realm” (“Lindbergh’s Daring Praised in Pulpits”, New York Times, 23 May 1927). Glenn Frank, president of Lindbergh’s alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, believed the flier to be an agent of global peace: “You have proved,” he cabled his former charge, possibly hoping for a future donation to support the football team, “that we no longer dare tolerate the narrow nationalisms that delay the moral and intellectual reunion of mankind” (“Wisconsin Sends Greeting”, New York Times, 23 May 1927). Why did Lindbergh’s exploits provoke high excitement and lofty speculation? The journalist Mary B. Mullett thought she knew the reason why:

We shouted ourselves hoarse. Not because a man had flown across the Atlantic! But because he was as clean in character as he was strong and fine in body; because he put “ethics” above any desire for wealth; because he was as modest as he was courageous; and because —as we now know, beyond any shadow of doubt—these are the things which we honor most in life. To have shown us this truth about ourselves in the biggest thing that Lindbergh has done.

— Mary B. Mullett, “The Biggest Thing That Lindbergh Has Done”, American Magazine (October 1927).

Maybe. Or maybe the biggest thing he had done was to fly across the ocean in pursuit of a $25,000 prize. Lindbergh’s flight was, of course, a tremendous feat of endurance and gutsiness, even if it was not wholly unprecedented. “It was not so much what Lindbergh did,” Orrin Edgar Klapp has claimed, “as the fact that he did it alone that most impressed Americans” (Heroes, Villains, and Fools: The Changing American Character [Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962], p. 43). In the end, that’s what distinguished him from Alcock and Brown: the solitary nature of his accomplishment (even if the title of his autobiography, We, expresses the interdependence of man and machine). And by seeming to prove that the individual still counted for something in an increasingly impersonal world of Taylorian production and mass consumption, Lindbergh, like the other titans of the Golden Age of Sports (an era unthinkable without radio broadcasts, a development that his British predecessors just missed out on), allowed ordinary men and women to fantasize that their lives might not be entirely without purpose, that greatness might yet be possible.

Anyway, cocktails! Almost lost amidst the ballyhoo surrounding Lindbergh is this nugget of news:

Although Col. [sic] Lindbergh is not a drinking man, he found on his arrival in London that Englishmen were drinking a cocktail created in honor of his great transatlantic flight.

An American cocktail mixer, employed in one of London’s largest hotels, is the inventor of the “Charlie Lindbergh” cocktail. It is compounded of equal parts of kinnalillet [sic] and Plymouth gin, two dashes of orange juice, and apricot and lemon peel.

— “Lindbergh Cocktail Invented in London”, Washington Post (11 June 1927), p. 2.

That “American cocktail mixer” was of course Harry Craddock of the Savoy, saluting his compatriot in his own inimitable way; here’s the recipe for the Charlie Lindbergh as it appears in the Savoy Cocktail Book:

2 Dashes Orange Juice.

2 Dashes Pricota.

1/2 Kina Lillet.

1/2 Plymouth Gin.

Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Pricota is a long-defunct make of apricot brandy, for which any currently available variety will do just as well. All in all, the Charlie Lindbergh cocktail is appropriately light and zesty—a tonic for the souls of men.

Harry MacElhone in Paris also produced a cocktail for the occasion. His was called Spirit of St Louis and, to be honest, is a pretty lacklustre affair: “2 ounces of Gin, 1 white of egg, 1 teaspoonful of Grenadine, 2 drops of Fleur D’Oranger”.

And should you wish to raise a glass to Messrs Alcock and Brown, or Louis Blériot, or Amelia Earhart, or the Wright Brothers, or any other pioneer of flight, then I suggest you fill it with an Aviation cocktail. See also the Prohibition cocktail.

* * * * *

¹ However, at a banquet in honour of the airmen, guests were served a menu that included dishes such as Oeufs Pochés Alcock, Suprême de Sole à la Brown and, after the make of their aeroplane, Poulet de Printemps à la Vickers Vimy (Heiner Emde, Conquerors of the Air: The Evolution of Aircraft, 1903-1945 [New York: Bonanza Books 1968], p. 69).

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