Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monkey Glands and Whiz-Bangs: Some 1930s Cocktails

IMG jimmy ciro's ca 1930

This little book is caled Cocktails by Jimmy Late of Ciro's London, and this site says that the book was first published in the US circa 1930. The Ciro's in Hollywood opened in 1939, was a celebrity favorite in the 1940s and 1950s,and the Byrds liked it too, as they played there in 1964. By that time the LA Ciro's was a rock club.

Of course, Prohibition in the US lasted from 1920 until 1933, so Jimmy would have been assuming that you either had your own speakeasy, or that you lived up in Canada, or that you had some secret source of liquor.

Jimmy recommends that you shake your cocktails as long as you possibly can and then after you have exhausted yourself in this aerobic fashion, to slug them down right away: "All cocktails are at their best immediately after making and shuld be taken as soon as possible." Especially if the police were at the speakeasy door!

The Preface writer had probably had a cocktail or two before sitting down at the typewriter. You can just hear him chortling at his own jokes, of which there are nearly as many as cocktail recipes in the book. He writes that this book will be as useful as "the family cook-book" because it will ensure that "even a child of five may prepare his (or her) favorite beverage without the necessity of running to ask daddy 'Please, what is a jigger?'"

The Preface also says that you can certainly use a bathtub to mix your drinks if you like - or a teaspoon, if you are more moderate. Just use Jimmy's scientific ratios and "the result will save you the endless bother of taking trips to Europe." Haw haw!

Jimmy liked grenadine (orange-flavored) and orgeat (almond-flavored) syrups but he also enjoyed a little gum syrup. You could get all of them "at al first-class grocery and provision stores." As long as they didn't ask what you were doing with all the drinks ingredients! Also, as we puzzle over the subtle difference between groceries and provisions, we may also wonder what is gum syrup. Could it possibly contain - gum? Well, gum arabic, originally, which gave it a creamy feel, but generally gum syrup was a simple sugar/water or sugar/water/egg white concoction. Here is a link to a recipe for it.

There are a lot of cocktails crammed into this small book, many with amusing names. And there are some strange toasts at the back, covering everything from bad puns to condescension to women.

Ink Street: 1 part Irish Whisky,1 part Orange Juice, 1 part Lemon Juice.

Monkey's Gland: 1 part Dry Gin, 1 part Orange Juice, 1 dash Absinthe per cocktail, Grenadine to taste.

Whiz-Bang: 2 parts Scotch Whisky, 1 part French Vermouth, 2 dashes Absinthe per cocktail, 2 dashes Orange Bitters per cocktail, Grenadine to taste. Squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top.

And after you have made your Whiz-Bangs and Monkey Glands, in between shaking and drinking them (and remember, you do not have much time to mess around here!) you can whip off a quick little toast, such as:

"Hips that touch liquor will never fall down." [Huh?]

"In through the teeth/Over the tongue/Look out, stomach/Here I come."

"Here's to you, my dear, and to the dear who's not here, my dear
but if the dear who's not here, my dear, were here, my dear,
I'd not be drinking to you dear, that's clear."

I would most definitely need a drink after the last toast, I fear.

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