National Archives “Spirited Republic” Exhibit

Just a quick interlude: For those of you in the Washington, DC, area, the National Archives opened a new exhibit earlier this month, “Spirited Republic: Alcohol in American History.” The exhibit deals with relationship between the U. S. Government and alcohol, and it set to run through early January 2016. I’m hoping to make a trip at some point, but I wanted to share with those of you who may live closer or have a trip already planned. You can read more in the press release. Last week, the Washington Post ran an article about the opening, which featured a signature punch.



Happy New Year From Us to You!

Hard to believe it’s almost 2015! Hopefully, our readers out there have a fun way to ring in the new year. If you’re having guests and are still looking for the right drink to fill your punch bowl, we wanted to offer a selection or two of the bubbly. Here’s How: Mixed Drinks is a 1941 book published in Asheville, NC. It’s got some rather interesting wood boards (which make it hard to scan, so apologies for the slightly off-kilter images–I haven’t been into the bowl yet!). Plus, there are more than a few punches.

Cheers to your 2014 AND 2015! Special Collections (and the university at large) re-opens next week. Be sure to stay with us–we’ll have plenty of new surprises in store!

Happy New Year!

Bowlen und Getränke: Or, On Punches and Drinks (Cocktails!)

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!

Mixing Drinks, 1906-style

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!