Just this past winter, Special Collections acquired a signed copy of Louis’ Mixed Drinks, With Hints for the Care & Serving of Wines. Published in 1906, Muckensturm’s guide includes descriptions and characteristics of wine, along with notes on the quality of vintages from 1880 up through 1905. A majority of the book, however, is dedicated to mixed drinks. It includes recipes for fizzes, cups, punches, cocktails, flips, sours, cordials, and bottling pre-made mixes at home.
Although the cocktail was by no means a new invention in 1906–in fact, it had been defined in print in the U.S. a century prior–cocktails and mixed drinks were most definitely on the rise in the early 20th century. Prohibition wasn’t all that far off, and the future limitations would have interesting effects on production and consumption of alcohol (more on that in some future posts). Following the repeal in 1933, interest in cocktails spiked for a couple of decades before going into decline (more on that, too).
Many of the basic drinks in Muckenstrum’s book are the origins and/or influences of the modern cocktail revival hitting the bars today. Certain items are still classics–a good martini, sour, or collins, for example (even the Orange Blossom is coming back into fashion!). Other choices are a little more obscure. Ask your average bartender for a twelve color Pousse-Cafe, a Barnyard Cocktail, or a Marliave’s Cocktail and you’re more likely to get strange looks than a drink. Of course, the Pousse-Cafe will look impressive with its multicolored layers, but a drink with that combination of flavors (orange, cherry, mint, cassis, fennel, and other herbs) probably won’t taste that good when it mixes anyway. (On a side note, if you do find a place where they know how to make any of those, you’ve found someplace special.) Of course, part of the reason to preserve this material is so that someone can make a Barnyard if they want one (which isn’t really a cocktail at all, with its raw eggs, vinegar, and Worcestershire and no alcohol!). Or, if you’re in the mood for Ivy-League school themed cocktails, the book has both the Yale and the Crimson cocktails. Sadly, no Hokies cocktail, but we can work on that!
Cocktails represent another unique part of culinary and social history, and that history is resurfacing for a whole new generation of enthusiasts. So, stop by, learn how to make a Pine Tree Cocktail, and tip your glass to Mr. Muckensturm and a long line of cocktail book authors and bartenders who helped make it all happen. Cheers!