Friday, February 10, 2012

Exhibit #90: Cocktail Bill Boothby

One of the touchstone bartenders of the late 19th / early 20th century was San Francisco’s Bill “Cocktail” Boothby (1862-1930). His bar manual, first published in 1891, was actually held in rather low esteem after Prohibition by some because it contained directions for such things as how to disguise new whiskey as properly aged, how to “fix” stale beer, amid a plethora of other ethically questionable money-saving tips for saloon keepers. Clearly the man wanted to sell some books. As to the recipes for legitimate drinks, those that are unique to the volume - or differ from other authors, make a fine window into fancy late 19th century cocktails, West Coast style.

Apple Toddy $8
Actually not one of Boothby’s drinks, but it’s been about two years since we last offered this bit of colonial deliciousness: a full pour of apple brandy mixed with half a baked apple, sugar, and hot water. As popular and American as the Julep for nearly two centuries, it did not survive Prohibition.

Brandy Champerelle $9
A pousse café, or layered drink: crème de cassis, Luxardo maraschino, yellow Chartreuse, and cognac, neat. A recipe unique to Boothby (others cite green Chartreuse, red curacao, and even Boker’s bitters – a defunct brand) – Bill swapped in his own choices and added a layer. The pousse café – that is, to push the coffee – was typically taken after a meal along with coffee, and was thought to aid digestion (coffee available on request). If sipped carefully, the layers will remain separate.

Brandy Scaffa $7
Another layered drink, but this time equal parts Luxardo maraschino and Martell VSOP cognac, dashed with Angostura, neat and served with an ice water back.

Cider Nectar $6
A tart cooler, served over crushed ice: hard cider, plenty of lime juice, a bit of sugar, and a dash of bourbon.

Iceberg $7
Gold rum, lemon juice, homemade raspberry syrup, served up in a punch glass. The name would seem to refer to the somewhat unorthodox preparation, as the ingredients are stirred with a heaping quantity of crushed ice. Larger than a cocktail in volume, but lighter in strength than most.

Sunrise $6
Yes, yet another layered drink…but this one adds fire to the mix: equal parts lime cordial and cognac, served flaming. This is more of a shooter than a sipper.

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