Serious Eats: Drinks
Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: Vintage Cocktails in 'Gourmet' Archives
"Long before they were hallmarks of any cocktail geek's liquor cabinets, Gourmet ran recipes for homemade allspice liqueur (1977) and Cherry Bounce (1966)."
This news of Gourmet's shuttering has touched every food lover, and this sense of sadness and disappointment extends into the world of drinks.
While the magazine's drinks coverage always seemed to feel more natural when the topic was wine, over the decades the editors occasionally gave spirits and cocktails a serious eye. Perhaps nowhere has this been more evident recently than on the magazine's website, which features drinks plumbed from Gourmet's archives arranged by decade, starting with the first issue in 1941.
This series of drinks forms a curious liquid time capsule. While certain drinks such as the Vermouth Cocktail or the Ward Eight appeared on bar menus decades before they appeared in Gourmet, the inclusion of truly era-appropriate drinks summons a feeling not unlike that of digging through the yellowed pages of old issues in your parents' basement.
Some drinks in Gourmet's archives are truly evocative of their era: way back in 1943 the magazine ran the recipe for Sloppy Joe's Mojito from the Havana watering hole and Hemingway haunt, a drink that would take another good half-century before it enjoyed its real moment in the sun.
When it appeared in the magazine in 1954, the Zombie was the king of exotic drinks and had launched a thousand tiki bars.
A Manhattan Windows on the World from 1984, not only evokes good living in New York during the 1980s, but is a marker for the whole cocktail renaissance that was just in its primordial state at that time. (Then there are examples of the "What Hath God Wrought" school of mixology from the 1950s, '60s and '70s; a Grasshopper, Blue Hawaii Kahala Hilton or Cola de Lagarto, anyone?)
There are also a few curious finds in Gourmet's archives. A Cugat Congo from 1945 is an unexpected mixture of rum, lime juice, grenadine and absinthe. A Bitter Orange Kindler from 1965 is a colorful and intriguing mix of Campari, triple sec and tonic water. And the Ambrosia Arnaud's from 1976 contains applejack, vermouth, lime juice, Champagne and orange liqueur.
What drinks from previous eras catch your eye?
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.