It is difficult to resist another dip into yesterday’s source - Cakes and Ale: a dissertation of banquets, interspersed with various recipes, more or less original, and anecdotes, mainly veracious ( 4th ed.; London, 1913) by Edward Spencer - especially when it allows me such a lovely title for a post.
The chapter entitled ‘Daylight Drinks’ is a great deal of fun, so to end the week I give you some of my favourite paragraphs from its pages:
Amongst daylight (and midnight, for the matter of that) drinks, the Cocktail, that fascinating importation from Dollarland, holds a prominent place. This is a concoction for which, with American bars all over the Metropolis, the cockney does not really require any recipe. But as I trust to have some country readers, a few directions may be appended....
.... But the ordinary British " bar-cuddler " - as he is called in the slang of the day - recks not of cocktails, nor, indeed, of Columbian combinations of any sort. He has his own particular " vanity," and frequently a pet name for it. "Gin-and-angry-story" (angostura), " slow-and-old " (sloe- gin and Old Tom), "pony o' Burton, please miss," are a few of the demands the attentive listener may hear given. Orange-gin, gin-and-orange-gin, gin-and-sherry (O bile where is thy sting ? ), are favourite midday " refreshers "; and I have heard a well-known barrister call for "a split Worcester" (a small wine-glassful of Worcester sauce with a split soda), without a smile on his expressive countenance. " Small lem. and a dash " is a favourite summer beverage, and, withal, a harmless one, consisting of a small bottle of lemonade with about an eighth of a pint of bitter ale added thereto. In one old-fashioned hostelry I wot of - the same in which the chair of the late Doctor Samuel Johnson is on view - customers who require to be stimulated with gin call for "rack," and Irish whisky is known by none other name than "Cork." The habitual "bar-cuddler " usually rubs his hands violently together, as he requests a little attention from the presiding Hebe; and affects a sort of shocked surprise at the presence on the scene of any one of his friends or acquaintances. He is well-up, too, in the slang phraseology of the day, which he will ride to death on every available opportunity. Full well do I remember him in the "How's your poor feet ?" era ; and it seems but yesterday that he was informing the company in assertive tones, " Now we shant be long ! The " free lunch " idea of the Yankees is only thoroughly carried out in the " North Countree" where, at the best hotels, there is often a great bowl of soup, or a dish of jugged hare, or of Irish stew, pro bono publico; and by publico is implied the hotel directorate as well as the customers. In London, however, the free lunch seldom soars above salted almonds, coffee beans, cloves, with biscuits and American cheese. But at most refreshment-houses is to be obtained for cash some sort of a restorative sandwich, or bonne bouche in the which anchovies and hard-boiled eggs play leading parts and amongst other restorative food, I have noticed that parallelograms of cold Welsh rarebit are exceedingly popular amongst wine-travellers and advertisement-agents. The genius who propounded the statement that "there is nothing like leather" could surely never have sampled a cold Welsh rarebit !
Put into a small tumbler one wine-glassful of sherry, half a wine-glassful of old brandy, the yolk of an egg, two teaspoonfuls of sugar, and two grains of cayenne pepper; add crushed ice, shake well, strain, and dust over with nutmeg and cinnamon.
I've never quite understood what is meant in English writing by "cocktail", which seems to name a particular drink. In the U.S., cocktail has always been generic.
Piet - The original cocktail is generally regarded as being a drink made of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. Later, this became known as an Old Fashioned to differentiate it from the many newer drinks that had been developed.
The term is specific in older (19th century) American books as well. Cocktails were still a distinct category of drinks in the Forties from I find. It seems that even in American English "cocktail" did not come to mean "any mixed drink" until some time on this side of WW2. And while we're at it, the specific drink referred to in the old books is mixture spirits, sugar and bitter served over ice. Basically what is currently called an Old Fashioned, if you have the good sense not to add fruit to it.
Thank you both for that information!
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