In early October, Special Collections acquired four particularly interesting additions to our History of the American Cocktail Collection–two Spanish and two German books relating to punch and cocktails. This week, the focus is on the latter, while I (archivist/blogger Kira) take a little time to brush up on my Spanish translation skills. The German I can manage with one hand wrapped around a glass…
The first of the two books is Das Kidronsquellchen und andere trinksame Ubungen from 1913. Part cocktail book and part book of poetry about punch and other drinks, this little volume falls into a comfortable space–we’d be hard pressed not to agree that alcohol and poetry have long intertwined history of inspiration and trouble-making. The second is Hegenbarth’s Bowlen, Punsch-, und Kaffee-Haus-Getränkebuch: eine Sammlung zeitgemässer Vorschriften zur Herstellung von kalten, warmen und sonstigen Mischgetränken: Mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der in- und ausländischen Kaffeehaus-Getränke der “american drinks”, sowie Äpfel und sonstiger Frucht Bowlen und Punsche [that’s something to the effect of “Hegenbarth’s Punch and Coffee-house Drink Book: a collection of contemporary recipes for making cold, warm, and other mixed drinks: with particular attention to native and foreign coffee-house drinks, as well as apple and other fruit punches” in English] from 1903.
A few notes on punches, cocktails, and our new German publications:
1. There are entire books written on the history of punch, cocktails, specific cocktails and ingredients, etc. (I should know, as I have an ever-expanding personal collection at home.) While the evolution of the cocktail could be debated for hours, it does have at least part of its origins in the history of punch. So, the fact that German books about alcoholic drinks start with punch, a drink that would have be known and consumed in Germany, isn’t surprising.
2. The Germans are so cool when it comes to punches, they have two words for it: Punsch (hot punch) and Bowle (cold punch).
3. Hegenbarth’s book (an in particular, its publication date) shows us that, while the major evolution of the cocktail started American during the early 19th century, word and recipes spread to Europe well before 1900. In addition to hot and cold punches and wine drinks, it has sections on American-born cocktails and cobblers, iced mixed drinks, and a few French drinks thrown into the mix.
4. Meyer’s “Feuerzangenbowle a la Alfred Richard Meyer” poem above refers to a type of red wine punch popularized in Germany. It’s made by soaking or pouring rum on loaf sugar held over the punch by “feuerzange” (fire tongs), setting the sugar on fire, and letting it melt into the punch bowl. (Feuerzangenbowle have made their way into German film, song, and print!)
The whole point, of course, it that the cocktail isn’t a purely American concept, nor is punch a purely British one. Like food recipes and food cultures, cocktails and mixed drinks evolved over continents and oceans and continue to do so. They inspire us to write and sing…perhaps dabble in a bit of mixology ourselves.
Stay tuned for a look at our new Spanish acquisitions…but until then, ponder the joy of Bowle and Punsche. Prost!