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!

Manuscript Cookbook, Just Where Are You From?

It’s been a while since we’ve highlighted a manuscript cookbook, so this week, it’s time for a brand new acquisition…

Sometimes, when it comes to manuscripts, the origins of an item remain a mystery. There is a name on the inside cover in this case, but a little research with the local resources on hand still left us unable to connect that name to a place.  While your usual archivist/blogger Kira is all for a good Scooby-Doo mystery, being an archivist often means knowing where to draw the line when it comes to research. There are plenty more collections waiting to be processed. And not knowing who created and/or compiled something doesn’t mean it doesn’t have research value.

This new addition our collection includes a diverse range of recipes, from cordials and syrups to cakes and baked goods to oysters. And, as if my usual interest in various preserved things isn’t bad enough, this week, I’m bringing you pickled cucumbers, oysters, and plums (at least they aren’t in gelatin…). The point to all this pickling repetition, though, is to show the common practices. Regardless of where this cookbook was compiled, it has recipes and ideas in common with manuscript receipt books we do know about.

Like many 19th and early 20th century handwritten receipt books, it does not have a neat order. (We did, for the record, just acquire a recipe book that does have an index!). Recipes for tallow candles are mixed in with apple pudding and cough syrup; a fruit syrup is next to “egg pone;” and the newspapers clippings are a blend of recipes, household hints, and remedies. Several pages have pasted in recipes on other paper, too. Very likely, it was a case of fitting the next recipe into the next available space…though there is a tendency among cookbook compilers to paste newspaper clippings in the back  pages.

Answers to questions about the cookbook’s organization are as much a mystery as its kitchen of origin, but this item does tell us that these recipes were significant to someone. This manuscript contributes to the larger discussion of late 19th and early 20th century food  preparation and preservation, the culture of recipe sharing (all those newspaper clippings came from someone else’s kitchen), and the overall picture of food history we are striving to create here at Special Collections. A little aire of uncertainty just makes it a little more exciting to research and ponder.

Plus, it has a recipe for blackberry syrup made with spices and brandy that I’d be willing to try, whether it was an effective cholera treatment or not…

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!

1731 Book for Receipts (Or, You Want to Pickle WHAT?)

Acquired in 2005, the 1731 “Book for Receipts” includes handwritten recipes by at least two different people. In addition to extensive directions on pickling everything from walnuts to melons to pidgeons, there is also a large collection of baked goods, wines, and even a variation of cheesecake! Like many collections of the time, there are home remedies, too!

By the way, this is also the manuscript that inspired our “Snail Water” post several weeks back.

A finding aid (or collection guide) for this manuscript collection is available online. The entire book was digitized in 2005 for preservation purposes. A pdf version can be viewed, saved, and/or printed here.